Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 27(4) December 2014 : 52-64.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2015.24139
Wicked Leadership For Wicked Times

Leading Healthcare in Complexity

Jeffrey Cohn

Abstract

Healthcare institutions and providers are in complexity. Networks of interconnections from relationships and technology create conditions in which interdependencies and non-linear dynamics lead to surprising, unpredictable outcomes. Previous effective approaches to leadership, focusing on top-down bureaucratic methods, are no longer effective. Leading in complexity requires leaders to accept the complexity, create an adaptive space in which innovation and creativity can flourish and then integrate the successful practices that emerge into the formal organizational structure. Several methods for doing adaptive space work will be discussed. Readers will be able to contrast traditional leadership approaches with leading in complexity. They will learn new behaviours that are required of complexity leaders, along with challenges they will face, often from other leaders within the organization.

 

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