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Motivating doctors into leadership and management: a cross-sectional survey

Baker, A., Bech, M., Geerts, J. , Axelsen, S. M., Ullum, H., Krabbe, M. P. & Goodall, A. H. ORCID: 0000-0002-9074-1157 (2020). Motivating doctors into leadership and management: a cross-sectional survey. BMJ Leader, doi: 10.1136/leader-2019-000181


Calls for doctors to enter management are louder as the benefits of medical leadership become clearer. But supply is not meeting demand. This study asks doctors: what might encourage you to go into leadership, and what do you see as the disincentives? The same was asked about leadership training. First, the paper attempts to understand doctors’ motivation to lead, specifically, to explore the job characteristics that might act as incentives and disincentives. Second, the study points to organisational obstacles that further shrink the medical leadership pipeline.

Doctors were surveyed through the Organization of Danish Medical Societies. Our key variables included: 1) willingness to take on a management or leadership position; 2) the incentives to go into leadership or management; 3) disincentives to do so; and 4) incentives for participating in leadership training. Our sample includes 3534 doctors (17% response rate).

Nearly 70% of doctors said that they would consider leadership or management positions. Overwhelmingly, the main incentive reported was to have a positive impact. Doctors are put off by fears of extra administration, longer hours, burnout, lack of resources, and by organisational cultures resistant to change. But they are fully aware of their need for leadership training.

Practical implications:
Health systems should adapt to reflect the motivations of their potential medical leaders, especially the best talent, who may not be the first to apply for management positions. It is also essential they offer leadership training. These findings, that aid succession planning, are especially important as more is known about the influence of medical leaders on organisational outcomes, and at a time of high reported stress, burnout, and staff recruitment and retention challenges.

Publication Type: Article
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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