Person-centred Leadership: a relational approach to leadership derived through action research

Shuan Cardiff, Tanya McCance, Brendan McCormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
1263 Downloads (Pure)


Aims & Objectives: How does person-centred leadership manifest in clinical nursing.

Background: Person-centred practice fosters healthful relationships and is gaining increasing attention in nursing and healthcare, but nothing is known about the influence of a person-centred approach to leadership practice. Most leadership models used in nursing were originally developed outside of nursing.

Design: A three year participatory action research study where participant leaders planned,researched and learned from their practice development.

Methods: After an orientation phase, four action spirals focused on: critical and creative reflective inquiries into leadership practice change; leading the implementation and evaluation of a new nursing system; facilitating storytelling sessions with staff and annually reflecting on personal leadership change. Multiple data gathering methods offered insight into leadership development from several perspectives.

Results: Critical and creative thematic data analysis revealed a set of attributes, relational processes and contextual factors that influenced the being and becoming of a person-centred leader. Comparing the findings with nursing leadership literature supports a conceptual framework for person-centred leadership.

Conclusions: Person-centred leadership is a complex, dynamic, relational and contextualised practice that aims to enable associates and leaders achieve self-actualisation, empowerment and wellbeing.

Relevance toclinical practice: This study and itsconceptual framework is of relevance to practitioners, educationalists andresearchers interested in developing a relational approach to nurse leadershipand person‐centred cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3056-3069
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number15-16
Early online date21 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Aug 2018


  • person-centeredness
  • leadership
  • nursing leadership
  • action research


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