Pressure to Lead: What Can We Learn from the Theory?

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Older people are major users of health and social services and, in the United Kingdom, the proportion of the population over 65 years is set to rise in the coming decades (Audit Commission 2000) with growing numbers of long-term conditions. In response, the National Health Service (NHS) must also change if it is to meet the needs of the nation. Whether in the public or the private sector, organisations must have leaders with the skills necessary to implement change if the organisation is to be successful (Landrum et al 2000). In the health care environment, leaders with the capacity to influence, shape and deliver services will enable the NHS to realise its organisational vision (Scottish Executive 2006).

Partnership for Care (Scottish Executive 2003) provides direction to achieve this goal by devolving power to frontline staff and promoting a culture of continuous improvement in the NHS. Occupational therapists form part of the frontline power responsible for implementing change and are in an ideal position to do so (Grady 1991). The author describes four theories of leadership – trait theory, motivational theories, transformational leadership and emotional intelligence – and reflects on their strengths and weaknesses and their relevance to occupational therapists currently working in the NHS.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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