Potential challenges facing distributed leadership in health care: evidence from the UK National Health Service

Graeme Martin (Lead / Corresponding author), Nic Beech, Robert MacIntosh, Stacey Bushfield

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    20 Citations (Scopus)
    350 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    The discourse of leaderism in health care has been a subject of much academic and practical debate. Recently, distributed leadership (DL) has been adopted as a key strand of policy in the UK National Health Service (NHS). However, there is some confusion over the meaning of DL and uncertainty over its application to clinical and non-clinical staff. This article examines the potential for DL in the NHS by drawing on qualitative data from three co-located health-care organisations that embraced DL as part of their organisational strategy. Recent theorising positions DL as a hybrid model combining focused and dispersed leadership; however, our data raise important challenges for policymakers and senior managers who are implementing such a leadership policy. We show that there are three distinct forms of disconnect and that these pose a significant problem for DL. However, we argue that instead of these disconnects posing a significant problem for the discourse of leaderism, they enable a fantasy of leadership that draws on and supports the discourse.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)14-29
    Number of pages16
    JournalSociology of Health & Illness
    Volume37
    Issue number1
    Early online date20 Dec 2014
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2015

    Fingerprint

    National Health Programs
    health service
    leadership
    health care
    Delivery of Health Care
    evidence
    discourse
    Fantasy
    Uncertainty
    Organizations
    uncertainty
    manager
    staff

    Keywords

    • distributed leadership
    • hybrid leadership
    • engagement

    Cite this

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    abstract = "The discourse of leaderism in health care has been a subject of much academic and practical debate. Recently, distributed leadership (DL) has been adopted as a key strand of policy in the UK National Health Service (NHS). However, there is some confusion over the meaning of DL and uncertainty over its application to clinical and non-clinical staff. This article examines the potential for DL in the NHS by drawing on qualitative data from three co-located health-care organisations that embraced DL as part of their organisational strategy. Recent theorising positions DL as a hybrid model combining focused and dispersed leadership; however, our data raise important challenges for policymakers and senior managers who are implementing such a leadership policy. We show that there are three distinct forms of disconnect and that these pose a significant problem for DL. However, we argue that instead of these disconnects posing a significant problem for the discourse of leaderism, they enable a fantasy of leadership that draws on and supports the discourse.",
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    Potential challenges facing distributed leadership in health care : evidence from the UK National Health Service. / Martin, Graeme (Lead / Corresponding author); Beech, Nic; MacIntosh, Robert; Bushfield, Stacey.

    In: Sociology of Health & Illness, Vol. 37, No. 1, 20.01.2015, p. 14-29.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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