Oxford Handbook of Medical Leadership and Management – Book Review by Dr Rammina Yassaie

Photo of The Oxford Handbook of Medical Leadership and Management The Oxford Handbook of Medical Leadership and Management offers a comprehensive overview of central topics related to leadership and management in healthcare, with an ideal blend of well-explained theory, alongside practical tips and illustrative case examples. The regular referencing to recent leadership challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting staff burnout, grounds the book in the current reality of the NHS, making it incredibly relatable to today’s readership.

It explores core leadership theory in a concise and accessible way, highlighting the importance of compassionate and collective leadership, whilst coherently explaining the difference between leadership and management and providing top tips for striking a balance between the two.

Notably, it does not shy away from important topics such as the alarming inequity that exists within healthcare and the role that inclusive leadership plays in drawing the best from our diverse teams and, in turn, improving patient outcomes; a topic that should be on the forefront of every clinical leader’s mind. Whilst sustainable healthcare is mentioned throughout, a more detailed exploration of the leadership challenges associated with climate action would likely benefit the reader, given the NHS commitment to reach net zero by 2040.

In the quest to lead for quality and safety, useful tips for creating a climate of psychological safety are provided, highlighting the importance of learning rather than blame cultures. Whilst many leaders encourage their teams to “speak up”, an understanding of how that can be meaningfully achieved in practice is crucial, which this book offers in an evidence-based way.

The book also takes a deep dive into how to take people (our colleagues and patients) with us on the journey to change and improvement. It explores the processes of change, discusses how to create both motivation and momentum, whilst also managing the inevitable resistance that occurs in systems that may have entrenched habits and exhausted staff. It provides helpful tips for winning over hearts and minds, whilst also offering an effective overview of frameworks and strategies on how to lead and measure for improvement. The detailed illustrations enable this practical advice to be both visualised and easily remembered.

The book also offers an easy reference guide to core management principles such as appraisals, job planning and performance management, appreciating the multi-factorial reasons that may lead colleagues to underperform. It demystifies management jargon and provides top tips on time management and effective chairing, for both in-person and virtual meetings. The detailed section on writing business cases, a common topic of interest to those new to leadership and managerial positions, is particularly useful. Other management skills such as delegation and negotiation are touched on, although there could be scope for more detail or a case example on the latter, given our increasingly integrated environments, not to mention the current climate of looming industrial action.

The section on leadership for clinical education, which explores the importance of being more intentional in our pursuit for improved inter-professionalism, offering case examples and tips for success, is particularly enlightening.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the incredibly insightful breakdown of value-based healthcare, which prompts the reader to re-think the way care is delivered in their own organisations. This, along with the focus on person-centred care, which flips the traditional physician-patient power dynamic around, to one that enables patients as partners and even leaders of their own care (with examples of how this can be achieved in practice), is vital reading for all.

For those new to leadership and management, it is an essential handbook to support them on their leadership journey, whilst those with more experience will be invited to consider aspects they may not have contemplated before, with the option of signposted resources and further reading. For a book just shy of 200 pages, it is remarkably thorough, practical and inspiring; a must-read for aspiring leaders at all levels.

Book Reviewer

Dr Rammina Yassaie

Rammina is a Senior Lecturer in Leadership at the Centre for Leadership in Health and Social Care at Sheffield Hallam University. Prior to this, she worked as an NHS doctor for over a decade and is alumni of both the Yorkshire and Humber Future Leaders Programme and the FMLM NHS Regional Clinical Leadership Programme. She is an editorial fellow with BMJ Leader, curates the BMJ Leader Greener Leader blog series in light of her passion for leading for planetary health and founded the bimonthly bookclub collaboration between FMLM and BMJ Leader, where books that offer learning for aspiring leaders are discussed on X (formally known as Twitter). She enjoys exploring ways to make leadership learning creative and accessible for all.

Declaration of interests

I have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: none.

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