Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature and impact of leadership in relation to the local implementation of quality improvement interventions in health care organisations.
Design/methodology/approach: Using empirical data from two studies of the implementation of The Productive Ward: Releasing Time to Care in English hospitals, the paper explores leadership in relation to local implementation. Data were attained from in-depth interviews with senior managers, middle managers and frontline staff (n = 79) in 13 NHS hospital case study sites. Framework Approach was used to explore staff views and to identify themes about leadership.
Findings: Four overall themes were identified: different leadership roles at multiple levels of the organisation, experiences of "good and bad" leadership styles, frontline staff having a sense of permission to lead change, leader's actions to spread learning and sustain improvements.
Originality/value: This paper offers useful perspectives in understanding informal, emergent, developmental or shared "new" leadership because it emphasises that health care structures, systems and processes influence and shape interactions between the people who work within them. The framework of leadership processes developed could guide implementing organisations to achieve leadership at multiple levels, use appropriate leadership roles, styles and behaviours at different levels and stages of implementation, value and provide support for meaningful staff empowerment, and enable leader's boundary spanning activities to spread learning and sustain improvements.