Purpose Calls for doctors to enter management are louder as the benefits of medical leadership become clearer. However, supply is not meeting demand. This study asks doctors (physicians): what might encourage you to go into leadership, and what are the disincentives? The same was asked about leadership training. First, the paper tries to understand doctors’ motivation to lead, specifically, to explore the job characteristics that act as incentives and disincentives. Second, the study points to organisational obstacles that further shrink the medical leadership pipeline.
Method Doctors were surveyed through the Organization of Danish Medical Societies. Our key variables included: (1) the incentives and disincentives for doctors of going into leadership and management and (2) the motivation to participate in leadership training. Our sample of 3534 doctors (17% response) is representative of the population of doctors in Denmark.
Findings The main reason why doctors are motivated towards leadership is to make a difference. They are put off by fears of extra administration, longer hours, burnout, lack of resources and by organisational cultures resistant to change. However, doctors are aware of their need for leadership development prior to entering management.
Practical implications To improve succession planning, health systems should adapt to reflect the incentives of their potential medical leaders. Leadership training is also essential. These changes are especially important now; medical leaders are linked positively to organisational and patient outcomes and have been central in responding to COVID-19, stress and burnout among clinical staff continues to rise, and health systems face recruitment and retention challenges.
- clinical leadership
- medical leadership
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Contributors AB planned the study, designed the survey, cleaned and analysed the data, wrote the first draft of the empirical sections and led the revision process. She guarantees the overall content. MB provided translations and explanations of Danish specialties and positions, set up the paper storyline and wrote the first draft of the non-empirical sections including the literature search and literature-related work. He contributed to the finalisation of the initially submitted draft and the revised manuscript. JG designed the survey parts on incentives and disincentives and leadership development. He contributed to the finalisation of the initially submitted draft and contributed editing to the revised manuscript. SMA provided access to the Danish doctors and input on the survey design. She provided necessary context for the empirical analysis and contributed to the finalisation of the initially submitted draft and the revised manuscript. HU provided access to the Danish doctors and input on the survey design. He contributed to the finalisation of the initially submitted draft and the revised manuscript. MPK planned the study, provided input on the survey design and conducted the survey. She provided input on the storyline of the paper. AHG planned the study, designed the survey, set up the paper storyline, finalised the paper from the first draft to the final draft and managed the submission and revision process. She guarantees the overall content.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request.
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