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Competencies physicians need to lead – a Canadian case

Scott Comber (Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
Kyle Clayton Crawford (School of Public Administration, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
Lisette Wilson (Rowe School of Business, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 16 April 2018

Issue publication date: 17 May 2018




Emerging evidence correlates increased physician leadership effectiveness with improved patient and healthcare system outcomes. To maximize this benefit, it is critical to understand current physician leadership needs. The purpose of this study is to understand, through physicians’ self-reporting, their own and others’ most effective and weakest leadership skills in relation to the LEADS leadership capabilities framework.


The authors surveyed 209 Canadian physician leaders about their perceptions of their own and other physicians’ leadership abilities. Thematic analysis was used, and the results were coded deductively into the five LEADS categories, and new categories emerging from inductive coding were added.


The authors found that leaders need more skills in the areas of Engage Others and Lead Self, and an emergent category of Business Skills, which includes financial competency, budgeting, facilitation, etc. Further, Achieve Results, Develop Coalitions and Systems Transformation are skills least reported as needed in both self and others.


The authors conclude that LEADS, in its current form, has a gap in the competencies prescribed, namely, “Business Skills”. They recommend the development of a more comprehensive LEADS framework that includes such skills as financial literacy/competency, budgeting, facilitation, etc. The authors also found that certain dimensions of LEADS are being overlooked by physicians in terms of importance (Systems Transformation, Achieve Results, Develop Coalitions), and this warrants greater investigation into the reasons why these skills are not as important as the others (Engage Others and Lead Self).



Comber, S., Crawford, K.C. and Wilson, L. (2018), "Competencies physicians need to lead – a Canadian case", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 195-209.



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