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Identifying distinctive traits of healthcare leaders in Israel: in-depth interviews with senior physicians – an exploratory study

Keren Dopelt (Department of Public Health, School of Health Sciences, Ashkelon Academic College, Ashkelon, Israel and Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel)
Baruch Levi (Division of Law and Public Policy, Israeli Medical Association, Ramat Gan, Israel and Department of Health SPolicy and Management, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel)
Nadav Davidovitch (Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 14 January 2021

Issue publication date: 31 August 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the views of physicians in senior management positions regarding the distinctive characteristics and roles of leaders in the Israeli health-care system and what might be the interactions between management and leadership.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 13 semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with physicians in senior management positions. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using the qualitative-phenomenological method.

Findings

Interviewees discerned leaders as exhibiting traits of transformational leadership and managers, as expressing characteristics of transactional leadership. Most interviewees asserted that physicians should act as social leaders promoting public health and equality in health care, beyond their clinical practice. They agreed that physicians should fill most senior positions in the health-care system, provided they undergo appropriate training in management, leadership and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Originality/value

Interviewees revealed gaps between the aspiration to lead, perceptions of physicians as leaders and what occurs in reality: physicians wish to assume leadership roles in the health-care system and emphasize the qualities of transformative leadership, but medical education does not include leadership training. Therefore, there is a need to develop training programs for physicians in management and leadership. There is also a need to integrate physicians from various communities to promote local leadership in the health-care field and to reduce disparities. The consideration of health-care leadership is especially applicable in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has placed the question of leadership within and outside of the medical community in a broader social context.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Mrs Rada Ukon and Mrs Bella Mullokandov-Smichov for their contribution to the paper.

Citation

Dopelt, K., Levi, B. and Davidovitch, N. (2021), "Identifying distinctive traits of healthcare leaders in Israel: in-depth interviews with senior physicians – an exploratory study", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 263-279. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHS-08-2020-0059

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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