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Future of clinical leadership: the critical role of front-line doctors
  1. Amit Nigam,
  2. Minjie Gao
  1. Cass Business School, University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amit Nigam, Cass Business School City, University of London, 106 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8TZ, UK; amit.nigam{at}


While people usually associate leadership with people with formal authority over organisations, front-line doctors play critical leadership roles today. We survey empirical studies in top management journals that speak to the role of front-line doctors in the implementation of service improvement initiatives. Front-line doctors can both drive and block change from within their organisations. In addition, doctors play critical roles in leading across professional groups, coordinating the input and work of different professionals. The leadership roles of front-line doctors can impact whether and how health systems improve and learn and how they perform. Harnessing the productive leadership potential of front-line doctors today is critical to creating a high-performing, sustainable healthcare system.

  • clinical leadership
  • improvement
  • management
  • medical leadership
  • multi-professional

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  • Contributors The first author initiated the essay and contributed to identifying and synthesising relevant literature and the initial and final drafting of the manuscript. The second author joined as a coauthor after the initial submission. She contributed to identifying and synthesising relevant literature and revising drafts after the initial submission.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement This is not a clinical trial and did not involve the collection of original data.

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