Guest editorial

Karen Owen (The Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators, Malvern, Australia)
Graham Dickson (Centre for Health Leadership and Research, Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 6 October 2014



Owen, K. and Dickson, G. (2014), "Guest editorial", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 27 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Leadership in Health Services, Volume 27, Issue 4

This special edition of Leadership in Health Services is devoted to the topic of medical leadership. It was initiated by a newly emerging international organization called the World Federation of Medical Managers (WFMM).

In the past five years, there has been an emerging Literature devoted to the topic of engaging doctors in leadership in health services: the difference they make to health service performance; the challenges they face in preparing for leadership and management roles; and “best practice”, as it relates to their preparation for those roles. WFMM members felt that the topic of medical leadership needed much more attention. This special edition is a consequence of these efforts.

As co-editors we are extremely gratified by the initial response to the call for papers. Over 25 submissions were received from seven countries. Papers for publication were chosen for the scope and breadth of the issues they covered, and the different international perspectives they brought[#fn1].

Papers highlight the broad discourse comprising medical leadership. From the challenge of individual doctors utilizing appropriate leadership styles (Chapman from the UK) to determining how medical leadership can be enhanced by a national framework for leadership (Fulop from Australia), micro-system to macro-system issues are explored. One paper provides empirical evidence to illuminate the practical benefit of educating doctors to lead multi-professional teams (Bowden from the USA). Another outlines the benefit of medical leadership from a conceptual perspective (Angood from the USA); and a third provides a model to guide implementation of medical leadership development within an organizational setting (Snell, Eagle and Van Aerde from Canada). MacCarrick from Australia profiles The Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators’ program to educate practicing doctors for senior medical leadership roles. Micallef from Australia outlines a program to prepare junior doctors for leadership.

Taken as a whole, the papers also illuminate a number of important themes. They demonstrate the importance of a significant investment of time and money to provide a meaningful preparatory experience. They highlight the need for a continuum of leadership development in programs beginning in medical school and continuing throughout a doctor’s career. There is a complex design challenge in developing such programs that enable doctors to construct their leadership through engaging them in real-life challenges that demand the practice of leadership. They emphasize the importance of context to the practice of medical leadership, and the subtle differences between effective leadership and responsible management. In all, the papers illuminate how important it is for doctors to be engaged, to receive incentives and to be acknowledged as credible leaders and managers by colleagues and others.

We – the co-editors – wish to thank the Emerald publishing for giving us this opportunity to profile medical leadership, and trust that this volume contributes to its understanding across international boundaries. It is a topic worthy of much further exploration and discourse.

Karen Owen and Graham Dickson


Other worthy papers that could not be included in this special edition will be found in other editions of Leadership in Health Services.

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