Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Looking for leaders

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 11 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:0-f

Rapid Response:

perhaps we don't need (what thinks of itself as) leadership

Perhaps we don't need leadership.

There are no shortage, indeed a surfeit, of people declaring
themselves leaders and issuing what look like orders, but it still doesn't
look like a working arrangment.

Where we have leadership, it does not always steer us away from

In the last few decades we have both observed large functioning
collaborative systems which clearly do not have any organised or very
special leadership and work well, and devised formal ways of describing
and discussing complex systems and large adaptive systems.

People getting into positions that look like leadership in the
context of the NHS all too often reduce the possible activity and
innovation to that which they themselves can encompass, sometimes
declaring this a virtue, and sometimes showing fear that anything they do
not control may destroy their job.

The leadership activity of getting out of the way and stopping anyone
else getting in it has been under-practiced.

Loose networks of activity may work better than any hierarchy here,
and the felt wisdom of the organisation may reflect this in its distrust
of those declared or declaring themselves to be our leaders.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 May 2006
Adrian K Midgley
Exeter EX1 2QS