Is there a crisis in healthcare leadership? In order to understand this question we must first look at what is meant by the term leadership. We prize and admire leadership skills, yet we have little understanding of how and why some persons are more effective leaders than others. This paper describes the changing concept of leadership in the context of both corporate and healthcare settings. The approaches taken in corporate leadership development programs are contrasted with the way in which leaders have been developed in healthcare. The authors assert that there are unique characteristics of health systems and organizations that warrant a tailored approach. A new model of developing healthcare leaders is proposed, one that could transform the educational process and improve outcomes. The authors call for a "back to basics" about how adults learn and outline an approach to leadership development in healthcare that includes principles of competency-based development, interdisciplinary and team learning and continuous assessment. Their conclusion is that leadership development is not done solely to improve the leadership skills of one individual but is an essential component of the development of the organization as a whole. Progressive health systems that invest in leadership development for the entire senior management team will have the more significant return on investment in terms of organizational effectiveness.
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