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Medical leadership: why it's important, what is required, and how we develop it
  1. Oliver J Warren1,
  2. Ruth Carnall2
  1. 1North West London General Surgery Rotation and Core Member, National Leadership Council, Department of Health, London, UK
  2. 2NHS London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Oliver Warren, Surgical Registrar and Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, 10th Floor QEQM Wing, St Mary's Hospital, London W2 1NY, UK; o.warren{at}


Good medical leadership is vital in delivering high-quality healthcare, and yet medical career progression has traditionally seen leadership lack credence in comparison with technical and academic ability. Individual standards have varied, leading to variations in the quality of medical leadership between different organisations and, on occasions, catastrophic lapses in the standard of care provided to patients. These high-profile events, plus increasing evidence linking clinical leadership to performance of units, has led recently to more focus on leadership development for all doctors, starting earlier and continuing throughout their careers. There is also an increased drive to see doctors take on more significant leadership roles throughout the healthcare system. The achievement of these aims will require doctors to develop strong personal and professional values, a range of non-technical skills that allow them to lead across professional boundaries, and an understanding of the increasingly complex environment in which 21st century healthcare is delivered. Developing these attributes will require dedicated resources and the sophisticated application of a variety of different learning methodologies such as mentoring, coaching, action learning and networking.

  • Leadership
  • mentors
  • medical education (Graduate)
  • health care Sector and health policy
  • health services administration & management
  • medical education & training

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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