“Discuss what leadership theory/model you would use as a health care leader and the theory/model you believe is least effective. Explain why the models you’ve selected would or would not work in a healthcare field.” Among a dozens of leadership theory/models listed in the book of “leadership for health professionals”, I would like to say that Bennis’s competency-based model of leadership is most effective one in the health care field, while House’s charismatic leadership model” is least one. Bennis competency-based model has been widely embraced by professional organizations. This model suggests that the skills and tools necessary to lead organizations must be learned-whether through incremental on-the-job training, formal education, or years of professional development. It implies that leaders are made and not simply born. To become chair of any departments of medical division, one cannot effectively hold such a position without years of medical education and a successful practice of medicine because the correct diagnosis and proper treatment for patients are the fundamental goal of all hospitals. The competent leader is a key point to reach this goal. Let’s take the department of pathology and laboratory medicine as an example.
The department of pathology has several division including clinical pathology, surgical pathology and blood banking. Each division has several subdivisions. For example, surgical pathology includes microscopy diagnosis made by pathologist, grossing surgical specimen performed by pathologist’s assistants, and tissue slides prepared by histotechnologists. The head of department of pathology is always held by pathologists rather than pathologist assistants or histotechnologists. Why? The answer is it is pathologists who have finished 4 years medical school education, 5-years resident and fellowship training and many years of practices. During the study in medical school and training in hospitals, Patholgosits go through all divisions and subdivisions in the department of pathology, they knew how to make diagnosis, how to dissect the specimen, how to get the tissue section, how to perform flow cytometry , how to determine the blood crossmatching. Therefore, whenever there are technical problems which other staffs cannot resolve, Pathologist is able to do it. Moreover, because pathologists know how each division functions, they can manage the workflow well, coordinate the each division and understand the tough issues in each division.
For instance, they know the difficulty to cut the bone sample, they would not demand the perfect bone slides which made by technologists. On the other hand, Pathologsit’s assistant and histotechnologist spends only 2 and 1 year studying in specific fields of either grossing or microtoming, respectively. They don’t know how other divisions works. Thus, it is hard for them to lead the department of pathology. In terms of House’s charismatic leadership model, I think it would not work in the healthcare field. First of all, unlike competency-based model which can be measured by the leaders’ education background and working experience, charismatic leadership inspires followership through intangibles in personality that cannot be measured by any tangible property in a universal way. Similar to the old adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, charisma is in the eye of the beholder.
Therefore, levels of acceptance and acknowledgement cannot be uniformly communicated by the members of the organization. Without the professional skill and profound knowledge in the field of healthcare, the leadership can be challenged and questioned by staffs who are not the beholder. Secondly, the charismatic leadership model suggests that the charismatic leaders are born with this quality. It is very difficult for those without natural charisma to mimic those who possess this natural ability on the long-term basis. It’s important for leaders in the fields of politics and business to possess Charismatic personality, for example, President John F Kennedy who inspired trust, faith and confidence in nonmechanical ways.
However, JFK would not be successful chair of department of pathology because he would lack professional discourse in the medical field and could not solve the technical problems to make a correct diagnosis. All in all, each leadership theory/model has its strength and weakness, as well as applications for use. As far as I am concerned, Bennis competency-based model is the most applicable to leading health organizations, whereas House’s charismatic leadership model” is least effective way.