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Bridging leadership science and medical leadership using servant leadership theory
  1. Melanie P Standish,
  2. Jose L Alba,
  3. Roya Ayman
  1. Department of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Melanie P Standish, Department of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL 60616, USA; mstandis{at}

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As the healthcare environment continues to evolve, the physician role is moving beyond medical expertise and demanding more leadership abilities. Medical leadership can range from implementing various doctor–patient care models, collaborating with interdisciplinary teams, to understanding how physicians can positively influence productivity as board members.1 2 Traditionally, medical leaders have been selected on the basis of merit, but with today’s medical context being more volatile, a physician is looked on to make decisions beyond their clinical expertise.3 Today’s medical leaders require a different set of competencies that go beyond a command and control type of leadership, and require interdependence and the prioritisation of one’s patients, team members and community. Healthcare organisations must consider developing leaders in an effort to close this gap through practice efforts that capture this paradigm shift, and prepare physicians with the knowledge, skills and abilities to lead effectively in today’s world.4–6

Lees and Armit characterise medical leadership as an evidence-free zone, noting that the generalisability of existing leadership knowledge from other professions to medical leadership is sparse.4 As a result, the leadership models theorised and tested by leadership academics are often ignored. This is problematic to the advancement of medical leadership, as extending leadership models from the organisational sciences to healthcare could provide a healthcare-based leadership programme with the theoretical basis and rigorous measurement tools that need to …

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  • Contributors All authors listed on this manuscript meet ICMJE authorship credit requirements. In addition to this, the authors contributed to the following. MPS is the lead author responsible for content on leadership research, recommendations and formatting manuscript for submission. JLA was responsible for generating content on the current state of physician leadership development practices and relevant research. RA helped in providing subject matter expertise and additional content related to the leadership science components of this paper.

  • 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.

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