Leader identity development in healthcare: an existential-phenomenological study

Leadersh Health Serv (Bradf Engl). 2019 Jan 24;32(1):83-97. doi: 10.1108/LHS-06-2017-0039. Epub 2018 May 18.


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to take an existential-phenomenological perspective to understand and describe the experienced leader identity development of healthcare leaders working in dual roles. Leader identity development under the influence of strong professional identities of nurses and doctors has remained an under-researched phenomenon to which the study contributes.

Design/methodology/approach: Existential-phenomenology serves as a perspective underpinning the whole research, and an existential-phenomenological method is applied in the interview data analysis.

Findings: The study showed leader identity development in healthcare to be most strongly influenced and affected by clinical work and its meanings and followers' needs and leader-follower relationships. In addition, four other key categories were presented as meaningful in leader identity development; leader identity development is an ongoing process occurring in relations of the key categories.

Originality/value: The existential-phenomenological approach and analysis method offer a novel way to understand leader identity development and work identities as experienced.

Keywords: Existential-phenomenological; Experience; Healthcare; Identity development; Leader identity; Leadership.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Existentialism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Social Identification*
  • Staff Development / methods*