Leadership and Management Techniques For All Doctors

Published on: 11 Aug 2022

Leadership and Management for Doctors

What is Leadership and Management? 

Leadership is a word that is often used and seldom truly understood. From medical school interviews through to senior career progression, the attributes of leadership are sought after. 

Good leadership is not automatically found with career progression and senior job roles. Leadership is the ability to translate a vision into reality. Materialising this vision into reality requires team working to achieve a common goal. Leadership is about focussing on the big picture, detecting where change is needed and implementing this change by inspiring and coaching members of the team to effectively achieve the change.

Leaders create leaders - leadership is not about inspiring yourself to be the best you can be, rather it is about role modelling behaviours that inspire others to become the best version of themselves. 

Management is about utilising the resources available to an organisation be it financial, human, machinery and integrating them together efficiently to achieve a goal. 

Leadership and management overlap but are uniquely distinct. Leadership focuses on change and exploring new possibilities with view to improving an organisation. Management focuses on the effectiveness of daily operations. 


Duties of a Doctor: 

There are a myriad of duties that doctors carry out on a daily basis. The GMC duties of a doctor highlights four, high standard domains (1) that doctors must follow: 

  1. Knowledge, Skills and Performance: where patient safety must be prioritised, and clinicians are required to keep up to date with academic knowledge and recognise their professional limits.  

  2. Safety and Quality: patient’s safety, health and quality of service must not be compromised.

  3. Communication, Partnership and Teamwork: patients should be involved in their healthcare decisions. Information must be presented fully for informed consent and their autonomy respected.

  4. Maintaining Trust: doctors must act with probity and maintain patient’s and the public’s trust in the medical profession. 

These domains set regulations for clinical, academic and professional duties that doctors have within teams in medical practice. They also provide a pre-set, uniform, high standard of care for patients. 


Leadership and Management in Healthcare:

The role of medical leadership in improving healthcare is recognised. It is also recognised that within multi-disciplinary teams, doctors have the penultimate responsibility in ensuring that patient care is not compromised. 

Leadership in the setting of healthcare is of immense importance as the role of a doctor is to detect, implement and lead change when there is improvement to be made in healthcare services or systems.

The Medical Leadership Competency Framework (MLCF) developed by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement contains leadership competencies that are designed to engage doctors in planning, delivering and transforming health services. This framework moves away from the conventional view of positional leadership and encourages shared leadership. Shared leadership is based on leadership arising from individuals at different levels where everyone is collectively responsible for the success of the organisation. 

Acts of leadership within teams of medical practice will differ based on job roles and experience. Depending on the job role, there are leadership duties that apply to all doctors and extra-responsibilities to doctors who are involved in formal management roles.  


Leadership Duties of a Doctor:

Doctors of all specialities and grades are expected to carry out leadership duties in their workplace. Leadership responsibilities include participating in projects with work colleagues to better patient care quality, utilising resources efficiently and productively as well as teaching junior colleagues and students. 

They also have a duty of care in the workplace to their colleagues and patients. Doctors must actively act if a patient's safely is jeopardised and acknowledge the diverse background of patients and colleagues. They must ensure a discrimination free workplace. 


The Healthcare Leadership Model: 

This model (4) contains nine leadership dimensions which can be used collectively or separately to promote leadership within healthcare workers. 

  1. Inspiring shared purpose: having a shared goal among members of the multi-displinary team is crucial to the achievement of that goal/service. Leadership here involves role modelling actions and commitments to this goal and inspiring others to follow suit. 

  2. Leading with care: leaders have to be tentative to their team members to support them in performing as best they can. This is done by creating a safe, supportive environment and encouraging team members to seek help when needed.

  3. Evaluating information: leaders must make informed decisions and therefore should continuously collect and evaluate data about their team/service. The data should be used to make evidence-based verdicts. 

  4. Connecting our service: understanding how other teams contribute to healthcare is vital. Leaders must appreciate that not every team operates the same and have to respect their differences. They must cooperate with other teams to achieve the common goal of high standard patient care.  

  5. Sharing the vision: inspiring the team for change can be a difficult job as change is not liked by most. Honest and passionate communication between leaders and their team can motivate the team to work towards that change and achieve a common goal. 

  6. Engaging the team: leaders value their team members and their individual qualities. They respect everyone’s contributions which motivates team members to engage in the change/shared goal. Instilling pride within individuals of the team results in increased contribution.

  7. Holding to account: leaders must be transparent about their expectations of their team and giving subsequent freedom for the team to meet them. Having clear goals and quality standards results in the team delivering what is expected and more. 

  8. Developing capability: leaders must constantly strive for improvement and so continuous personal development is crucial. Leaders must be role models and support their teams to continuously learn and develop new skills. This is important so that the team is prepared for future challenges and innovative change. 

  9. Influencing for results: maintaining relationships and building new ones is crucial to ensure continuous improvement of services. Leaders use personal skills, networking abilities and professional knowledge to promote cooperation between different organisations. 

For more detail on the dimensions of the leadership model, please click here


In conclusion, both leadership and management are required to drive the success of an organisation and doctors of all grades are expected to be proficient in them. Managerial skills focus on smooth and efficient running of day-to-day operations including best allocation of resourcing and task allocation. Leadership skills focus on creating a direction of change and inspiring members of the team to unite and work together towards achieving it. The importance of leadership in healthcare is well recognised and results in high standards of care for patients.