Functional framework for change leaders: Results of a qualitative study

Amanda L. Woods, Margaret M. Luciano, Thomas A. Aloia, Vijaya Gottumukkala, Eduardo Salas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background Healthcare organisations are increasingly placing the onus on care providers to lead change initiatives to improve patient care. This requires care providers to perform tasks in addition to their core job roles and often outside of their formal training. The existing literature provides few insights regarding the functions required of change leaders in healthcare organisations. Objective To identify the core functions required of effective change leaders in healthcare organisations. Design Qualitative interview study. Participants Data were collected from semistructured interviews with 31 individuals employed by a large cancer centre in a variety of different positions (eg, surgeons, anaesthesiologists, nurse anaesthetists, nurses, project consultants and research coordinators) who had been involved in successful quality improvement initiatives. Results Using inductive content analysis, we identified six core pillars of leading change, which are supported by a foundation of effective communication. Within these six pillars, there were 12 functions, including explain why, demonstrate value, create consensus, align efforts, generate enthusiasm, motivate commitment, institute structure, explain how, facilitate taskwork, promote accountability, enable adjustment and sustain effort. Our model offers unique insights on leading sustainable change in healthcare organisations. Conclusion Using inductive content analysis of semistructured interviews, we have identified 12 important change leader functions and have organised them into a conceptual framework for leading change in healthcare. Individuals involved in leading change initiatives or developing training programmes to help others become effective change leaders can use this framework to ensure they are comprehensively addressing the necessary tasks for sustainable change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Leader
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Strategy and Management
  • Leadership and Management


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