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Leading with integrity: a qualitative research study

Lorna Storr (James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



This research paper gives an account of a study into the relationship between leadership and integrity. There is a critical analysis of the current literature for effective, successful and ethical leadership particularly, integrity. The purpose and aim of this paper is to build on the current notions of leadership within the literature, debate contemporary approaches, focussing specifically on practices within the UK National Health Service in the early 21st century. This leads to a discussion of the literature on ethical leadership theory, which includes public service values, ethical relationships and leading with integrity. A small study was undertaken consisting of 18 interviews with leaders and managers within a District General Hospital. Using the Repertory Grid technique and analysis 15 themes emerged from the constructs elicited, which were compared to the literature for leadership and integrity and other studies. As well as finding areas of overlap, a number of additional constructs were elicited which suggested that effective leadership correlates with integrity and the presence of integrity will improve organisational effectiveness. The study identified that perceptions of leadership character and behaviour are used to judge the effectiveness and integrity of a leader. However, the ethical implications and consequences of leaders' scope of power and influence such as policy and strategy are somewhat neglected and lacking in debate. The findings suggest that leaders are not judged according to the ethical nature of decision making, and leading and managing complex change but that the importance of integrity and ethical leadership correlated with higher levels of hierarchical status and that it is assumed by virtue of status and success that leaders lead with integrity. Finally, the findings of this study seem to suggest that nurse leadership capability is developing as a consequence of recent national investment.



Storr, L. (2004), "Leading with integrity: a qualitative research study", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 415-434.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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