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

Graeme Martin, Nic Beech, Robert Macintosh, Stacey Bushfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

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 and Illness
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

Keywords

  • Distributed leadership
  • Engagement
  • Hybrid leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Health(social science)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Potential challenges facing distributed leadership in health care: Evidence from the UK National Health Service'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this