A1 Journal article (refereed)
Elements of perceived good physician leadership and their relation to leadership theory (2022)

Huikko-Tarvainen, S. (2022). Elements of perceived good physician leadership and their relation to leadership theory. Leadership in Health Services, 35(1), 14-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/lhs-01-2021-0002

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Huikko-Tarvainen, Sari

Journal or series: Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

eISSN: 1751-1887

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 31/08/2021

Volume: 35

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 14-29

Publisher: Emerald

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/lhs-01-2021-0002

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/77691


Purpose The research task is to discover elements of good physician leadership as perceived by physicians and to find out how the findings connect to the leadership theory.
Design/methodology/approach The subjects (n=50) of this qualitative study are physicians from four hierarchical levels (residents/specialising physicians, specialists, heads of departments and chief physicians). Content analysis with a constructivist-interpretative approach by thematisation was the chosen method and it was also analysed how major leadership theories relate to good physician leadership.
Findings Physician leaders are expected to possess the professional skills of physicians, understand how the work affects physicians’ lives, and be competent in applying suitable leadership approaches following different situations and people. Trust, fairness, empathy, social skills, two-way communication skills, regular feedback, collegial respect and emotional intelligence are expected. As medical expertise connects leaders and followers, success in medical leadership comes from credibility in medical expertise, making medical leadership an inseparable part of good physician leadership. Subordinates are physician-colleagues, who have their informal leadership roles on their hierarchical levels, making physician leadership a multidimensional leadership setting wherein formal leaders lead informal leaders, which blurs the traditional leader-follower boundary.
In summary, good physician leadership is leadership through medical expertise combined with good manners, collegiality and traits from different kinds of leadership theories.
Originality This study discovers elements of good physician leadership in a Finnish healthcare context in which no similar prior empirical research has been carried out.

Keywords: leadership (activity); leadership (properties); health sector; medical doctors; professional skills; professional identity; social skills; roles (expected behaviour)

Free keywords: physician leadership; leadership theory

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 13:30