Medical leadership is an increasingly important aspect of hospital management. By engaging physicians in leadership roles, hospitals aim to improve their clinical and financial performances. Research has revealed numerous factors that are regarded as necessary for ‘medical leaders’ to master, however we lack insights into their relative importance. This study investigates the views of healthcare professionals and managers on what they consider the most important factors for medical leadership. Physicians (n = 11), nurses (n = 10), laboratory technicians (n = 4) and managers (n = 14) were interviewed using Q methodology. Participants ranked 34 statements on factors elicited from the scientific literature, including personal features, context-specific features, activities and roles. By-person factor analysis revealed three distinct views of medical leadership. The first view represents a strategic leader who prioritizes the interests of the hospital by participating in hospital strategy and decision making. The second view describes a social leader with strong collaboration and communication skills. The third view reflects an accepted leader among peers that is guided by a clear job description. Despite these differences, all respondents agreed upon the importance of personal skills in collaboration and communication, and having integrity and a clear vision. We find no differences in views related to particular healthcare professionals, managers, or departments as all views were defined by a mixture of departments and participants. The findings contribute to increased calls from both practice and literature to increase conceptual clarity by eliciting the relative importance of medical leadership-related factors. Hospitals that wish to increase the engagement of physicians in improving clinical and financial performances through medical leadership should focus on selecting and developing leaders who are strong strategists, socially skilled and accepted by clinical peers.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218095, hdl.handle.net/1765/117241
Journal PLoS ONE
Citation
van de Riet, M.C.P. (Merlijn C.P.), Berghout, M, Buljac-Samardzic, M, van Exel, N.J.A, & Hilders, C.G.J.M. (2019). What makes an ideal hospital-based medical leader? Three views of healthcare professionals and managers: A case study. PLoS ONE, 14(6). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0218095