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Optimizing health care employees' newly learned leadership behaviors

Anita J. Snell (Centre for Health Leadership and Research, Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada)
Graham Dickson (Centre for Health Leadership and Research, Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




The purpose of this qualitative research study is to gain an understanding of the workplace experiences of individuals, employed in health care organizations, a few months after taking leadership development programming, as they endeavor to put into practice the concepts, ideas, and skills they acquired as part of their leadership development programs.


Four providers of leadership development programs in the health care arena canvassed their recent “graduates” to participate in the study. A total of 54 participant telephone interviews were transcribed and inductively analyzed.


Despite the range of leadership development programs attended, participants were consistent in their enthusiasm for the uptake of leadership knowledge, and the organizations for which they worked were largely consistent in their facilitation of the participants' leadership efforts when they returned to work. Organizational factors that support or impede the practice of effective leadership, and strategies to facilitate supportive organizational responses to aspiring leaders, were identified.

Research limitations/implications

This study cites benefits realized by health care organizations when participants of leadership development programs return to their workplaces; such benefits are based on the participants' self‐report only. Future research could gain third‐party corroboration concerning specific organizational impacts related to employees attending leadership development programs.

Practical implications

There are many practices organizations can implement to ensure that full value is realized from employees who have attended leadership development programs. This study provides organizations with qualitative evidence of what supports and hinders employees in practicing newly learned leadership behaviors.


Little qualitative research exists that provides an overview of the workplace leadership experiences of individuals after taking leadership development programs.



Snell, A.J. and Dickson, G. (2011), "Optimizing health care employees' newly learned leadership behaviors", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 183-195.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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