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Developing Canadian physician: the quest for leadership effectiveness

Scott Comber (Department of Business, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
Lisette Wilson (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
Kyle C. Crawford (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 4 July 2016



The purpose of this study is to discern the physicians’ perception of leadership effectiveness in their clinical and non-clinical roles (leadership) by identifying their political skill levels.


A sample of 209 Canadian physicians was surveyed using the Political Skills Inventory (PSI) during the period 2012-2014. The PSI was chosen because it assesses leadership effectiveness on four dimensions: social astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability and apparent authenticity.


Physicians in clinical roles’ PSI scores were significantly lower in all four PSI dimensions when compared to all other physicians in non-clinical roles, with the principal difference being in their networking abilities.

Practical implications

More emphasis is needed on educating and training physicians, specifically in the areas of political skills, in current clinical roles if they are to assume leadership roles and be effective.


Although this study is located in Canada, the study design and associated findings may have implications to other areas and countries wanting to increase physician leadership effectiveness. Further, replication of this study in other settings may provide insight into the future design of physician leadership training curriculum.



This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Research Development Fund. The purpose of this fund is to support activities that develop, increase or strengthen research excellence in the social sciences and humanities at Dalhousie University. The RDF budget is funded by the SSHRC Institutional Grant and term-expired SSHRC funds.

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


Comber, S., Wilson, L. and Crawford, K.C. (2016), "Developing Canadian physician: the quest for leadership effectiveness", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 282-299.



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