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Theories of Healthcare Leadership

Brought to you by Felice J. Tilin, Ph.D., Program Director of the Online Master’s in Organization Development and Leadership Program at Saint Joseph’s University.

Are leaders born? Can leaders be developed? Does the environment create the leader? There are a variety of perspectives on how leaders come to be. Many offer intriguing views of the leadership concept, but no definitive conceptualization exists. There are three broad theoretical approaches that closely align with healthcare leadership development. They are personality/trait, contingency/situational, and relational theories.

Personality and Trait Theories- Early ideas about leadership focused on the “great man” theory, which states that leaders were born with certain characteristics that predisposed them to take command and lead others (Carlyle, 1841.)

Contingency and Situational Theories and Leadership Styles- Contingency and situational theories believe that effective leaders use a combination of behaviors or styles that are contingent upon the particular situation, the personalities involved, the task, and the organizational culture (Fiedler, 1967; Hersey, 1985).

Relational Theories- Relational Theorists recognize leadership as a reciprocal interaction between leaders and followers with the hallmark of a good leadership being transformation of the followers who are committed to the leader’s vision (Bass & Avolio, 1994).

To gain a better understanding on how leaders are defined read the full expert from The Interprofessional Health Care Team: Leadership and Development.

In the online Master’s in Organization Development and Leadership (MODL) degree program from Saint Joseph’s University, you don't just study theories and concepts of leadership, you develop your own leadership skills in real-time as you apply lessons within your own organization, interact face-to-face with peers and professors, and engage in powerful self discovery to develop your full leadership potential. Real leaders don't wait to be chosen. If you're ready to rise up, contact us today.