Perceptions of effective leadership in a medical school context


Background: There have been calls for the development of leadership attributes in healthcare practitioners through leadership development programs. However, understanding how leadership is conceptualized is needed to assure effective participant-centred leadership development programs. The purpose of this study was to elucidate how the construct of leadership is conceptualized by multiple stakeholder groups associated with medical school leadership programs.

Methods: We conducted a total of 77 semi-structured interviews with six major demographic groups: Trainees (n= 16), Mid-Level University Leaders (n= 10), Clinician Leaders (n= 17), Senior University Leaders (n= 10), Medical Scientists (n= 12), and Senior Leaders, external to the University (n = 12) to address the research question.

Results: Content analyses revealed that the leaders were expectedto create a compelling vision and a foster a motivating culture within the organization. Integrity and a sense of passion about leading were viewed as being principal characteristics of a leader. The twin skills of technical competence and communication were endorsed as most important for a leader. Finally, leaders are expected to be accountable for outcomes.

Conclusion: Medical school leadershiptraining programs should strive to incorporate these characteristics, given their broad appeal to diverse interest groups.

Author Biographies

Aleem Bharwani, University of Calgary

Cumming School of Medicine

Clinical Assistant Professor


Theresa Kline, University of Calgary

Department of Psychology

Professor Emeritus

Margaret Patterson, University of Calgary

Werklund School of Education

University of Calgary

How to Cite
Bharwani, A., Kline, T., & Patterson, M. (2019). Perceptions of effective leadership in a medical school context. Canadian Medical Education Journal, 10(3), e101-106.
Brief Reports