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Leadership behaviours and healthcare research performance: prospective correlational study
  1. Vanash M Patel1,
  2. Hutan Ashrafian1,
  3. Chukwudi Uzoho1,
  4. Nikolaos Nikiteas2,
  5. Pietro Panzarasa3,
  6. Nick Sevdalis4,
  7. Ara Darzi1,
  8. Thanos Athanasiou1
  1. 1Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2Second Department of Propedeutic Surgery, University of Athens School of Medicine, Laiko General Hospital, Athens, Greece
  3. 3School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
  4. 4Centre for Implementation Science, Health Service & Population Health Department, King's College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Vanash M Patel, Clinical Research Fellow, Department of Surgery and Cancer, 10th Floor, QEQM Wing, St Mary's Hospital, London W2 1NY, UK; vanash.patel06{at}


Objectives The aims of the study were to determine whether differences in leadership self-perception/behaviour in healthcare researchers may influence research performance and to evaluate whether certain leadership characteristics are associated with enhanced leadership efficiency in terms of motivation, effectiveness and satisfaction.

Design and participants All Faculty of Medicine Professors at Imperial College London (n=215) were sent the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) Self form as a means of evaluating self-perception of leadership behaviours.

Main outcome measures For each professor, we extracted objective research performance measures (total number of publications, total number of citations and h index) from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2009. The MLQ measured three leadership outcomes, which included motivation, effectiveness and satisfaction. Regression analysis was used to determine associations.

Results A total number of 90 responses were received, which equated to a 42% response rate. There were no significant correlations between transformational, transactional or passive/avoidant leadership behaviours and any of the research performance measures. The five transformational leadership behaviours (ie, idealised attributes (IA), idealised behaviours (IB), inspirational motivation (IM), intellectual stimulation (IS), individual consideration (IC)) were highly significant predictors of leadership outcomes, extra effort (all B>0.404, SE=0.093–0.146, p<0.001), effectiveness (IA, IM, IS, IC B>0.359, SE=0.093–0.146, p<0.001; IB B=0.233, SE=0.103, p=0.026) and satisfaction (IA, IM, IS, IC B>0.483, SE=0.086–0.139, p<0.001; IB B=0.296, SE=0.101, p=0.004). Similarly, contingent reward was a significant predictor of extra effort (B=0.400, SE=0.123, p=0.002), effectiveness (B=0.353, SE=0.113, p=0.002) and satisfaction (B=0.326, SE=0.114, p=0.005).

Conclusions This study demonstrates that transformational leadership and contingent reward positively influence leadership efficiency in healthcare researchers. Although we did not show an association between leadership behaviours and research performance metrics, further studies using contextual performance measures at team and organisational levels are required.


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  • Contributors All authors have made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data for the work. All authors have contributed to drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content. All authors have given final approval of the version to be published.

  • Funding Sevdalis' research was funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South London at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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