Leadership in interprofessional healthcare teams: Empowering knotworking with followership

Med Teach. 2021 Jan;43(1):32-37. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2020.1791318. Epub 2020 Jul 16.


Healthcare professionals need to be able to collaborate in interprofessional healthcare teams (IHTs). This paper discusses how healthcare professionals (can) contribute to IHT effectiveness. Using cultural historical activity theory and its affiliated concept of knotworking, it argues that healthcare professionals would benefit from developing not just leadership but also followership skills. Moreover, IHT collaborators need the ability to switch fluently between leader and follower roles as appropriate to advance patient care. This fluency is essential for collaborative knotworking. Knotworking refers to the process of tying and retying together individual threads of activity and expertise from across the IHT, over time, to achieve specific objects. Knotworking highlights the dynamic dimensions of IHT collaboration that require professionals to be both effective leaders and followers. The perspectives presented in this paper lead to a different view of IHTs, one that recognizes how leaders and followers co-produce the leadership teams need.

Keywords: CHAT; Knotworking; followership; healthcare; leadership.

MeSH terms

  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Leadership*
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Power, Psychological