‘Uncovering variation in Healthcare Managers’ conceptions of Leadership Development-A Phenomenographic Analysis’

Paul Joseph-Richard, Shirley-Ann Hazlett

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


This paper examines middle-level healthcare managers’ conceptions of Leadership Development (LD). Phenomenography, a qualitative research approach was used to address two broad research questions: What are middle-managers’ conceptions of leadership development? And how do middle-managers understand what gets developed in leadership development programmes (LDPs)? Empirical evidence, collected from 23 nurse managers in a large National Health Service organisation in the UK were analysed using phenomenographic methods. The results indicate that middle-managers understand LD in one of five, qualitatively different ways: LD as (1) an event where awareness about one’s self and context is triggered, (2) an event in which managers refresh their knowledge and boost their confidence, (3) an events- based process by which managers learn to become listening and empowering individuals (4) any opportunity where managers learn to use resources effectively in order to ‘lead from behind’ quietly, where appropriate, and (5) a life-long learning process by which one learns to ‘lead by example’ by ‘being out there’ so that their team moves forward. All five conceptions of LD are predominantly based on the individualistic model of leader-development, and are delimited by various subtle, implicit leadership beliefs. By revealing a fine- grained look of what constitutes LD, over and above what is normally explored in the literature, it is argued that it is important that researchers and healthcare managers take into account the power of this variation when advancing LD theory and practice.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAcademy of Management Proceedings
Number of pages20
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia
ISBN (Electronic)https://doi.org/10.5465/ambpp.2014.10920abstract
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Aug 2014


  • Leadership Development
  • Healthcare
  • Middle-Managers
  • National Health Service


Dive into the research topics of '‘Uncovering variation in Healthcare Managers’ conceptions of Leadership Development-A Phenomenographic Analysis’'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this