Leadership Theories in Medical Educational Settings

Topic: Leadership
Words: 837 Pages: 3
Table of Contents


Adequate leadership skills constitute an essential part of most medical institutions as their daily procedures highly depend on organizing various groups of people. Therefore, leadership systems, which explain management styles and the optimal operating methods, must be studied intently. The transformational, transactional, situational, and servant theories are the major theories prominent in nursing (Chen, 2018). Moreover, transactional and transformational leadership have been explored more in-depth than the others, presumably due to their practicality in several fields. Previous studies have also evaluated the factors that form the basis of the ideas, with registered nurses participating in the procedure (Boamah & Tremblay, 2019). The studies confirmed the transactional and transformational theories’ effectiveness while also suggesting a few additional corrections had to be made. Therefore, the mentioned principles must be discussed to highlight their role in medical education settings.


The two theories share functionalities and applications in medical, and educational settings, while their general views differ significantly. Transactional leadership is based on the principles of rewarding or punishing employees according to their task accomplishment (Kalsoom et al., 2018). On the other hand, the transformational theory proposes a working model in which motivation plays a crucial role in encouraging innovative ideas (Kalsoom et al., 2018). Therefore, the theories evidently recommend different approaches to ensure a good work ethic and practical task-completion skills. It can be suggested that transformational leadership prioritizes long-term quality results and employee satisfaction, while transactional leadership promotes better organization in the workplace, as well as a stricter commitment to any arranged deadlines.

Moreover, the effectiveness of the theories is inconsistent in different parts of the world. Collectivist cultures prefer the transactional, as it includes direct orders and values conformity, while individualistic countries find the principles of the transformational more encouraging (Kalsoom et al., 2018). According to other studies, the two leadership styles can be integrated into one model under the assumption that they both have been successful in various workplaces (Ma & Jiang, 2018). In this way, although they are based on different principles, one factor they share is the ability to be successfully incorporated into any work plan.

In medical educational settings, the transactional and transformational theories may both be applied to improve leadership skills and, at the same time, improve collaborative practices amongst medical staff. By educating residents, students, and faculty members, the essential elements of an organized, professional setting can be discussed (Dickerman et al., 2018). Specifically, transformational leadership theory is useful for physician leaders who act as role models for their colleagues and students. The role model must inspire others to work as efficiently through decision-making, intellectual stimulation, and setting goals, even in stressful situations (Fletcher et al., 2019). Transactional methods would revolve around minimizing errors and controlling the team’s productivity; such methods involve praising and rewarding medical students and staff (Fletcher et al., 2019). Therefore, both leadership styles can be helpful in educating future professionals on ways they can successfully reach their goals while working in a team.

The transformational theory is evident in the organizational behaviors of clinical rotations’ leaders as they rely on their expertise to demonstrate how certain tasks should be completed in the institution. In this way, they encourage medical students to participate in the necessary challenges without constant interference (Sigler & Gray, 2019). The discussions after shifts help intellectually stimulate the students while clearly remaining in the leader position. On the other hand, the transactional leadership theory’s principles are evident in the final feedback sessions with the students, as certain behaviors and results are evaluated to motivate better performance. Moreover, although supervision during clinical rotations usually occurs with minimal interference, guidance along the way (including remarks and commentary) serves as a prime example of transactional leadership. Hence, both theories are clearly demonstrated through discussions, role modeling, decision-making, and leader feedback.


The two central theories studied in medical and educational settings are the transactional and transformational leadership theories. Both leadership styles offer medical staff and students guidance about the optimal methods to organize and manage a team of professionals in the hospital or other medical institutions. While the transformational theory considers independent strategies based on the influence of a role model, the transactional theory prioritizes teamwork in order to reach a goal. Hence, both may be highly successful depending on the goal of a project and the country where the institution is located. Considering the individualistic values of transformational leadership and the collectivist principles of transactional leadership, the possible connections to their respective countries are evident.

The transformational and transactional theories can be outlined in clinical rotations from the main procedures that occur. In this way, the transformational style includes the leader working as a role model and encouraging each participant to learn and reflect independently. On the other hand, transactional principles are evident in the discussions, which stimulate error corrections and ensure swift teamwork. It is critical to note the importance of incorporating both theories into educational programs for medical institutions, as the discussed research suggests balancing the valued teamwork skills and independent critical thinking.


Boamah, S. A., & Tremblay, P. (2019). Examining the factor structure of the MLQ transactional and transformational leadership dimensions in the nursing context. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 41(5), 743–761. Web.

Chen, Tsung-Ying. (2018). Medical leadership: An important and required competency for medical students. Tzu-Chi Medical Journal 30, 2, 66-70. Web.

Dickerman, J., Sanchez, J.P., Portela-Martinez, M., Roldan, E. (2018). Leadership and academic medicine: Preparing medical students and residents to be effective leaders for the 21st century. The Journal of Learning and Teaching Resources. Web.

Fletcher, K.A., Friedman, A., Piedimonte, G. (2019). Transformational and transactional leadership in healthcare seen through the lens of pediatrics. The Journal of Pediatrics 204, 7-9. Web.

Kalsoom, Z., Khan, M. A., & Zubair, D. S. S. (2018). Impact of transactional leadership and transformational leadership on employee performance: A case of FMCG industry of Pakistan. Industrial Engineering Letters, 8(3), 23-30.

Ma, X., & Jiang, W. (2018). Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, and employee creativity in entrepreneurial firms. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 54(3), 302 -324. Web.

Sigler, J., Gray, A. (2019). Leader-follower dynamics within medical students’ groups during clinical rotations. The Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Fifth International Conference on Higher Education Advances. Web.

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