Team Leadership in Public Health


Healthcare organizations are finding it impracticable to have a single leader performing all the leadership functions at the top or departmental levels. This is due to the increasing complexities within the modern health care systems. Instead, they are adopting team leadership that allows leadership functions to be performed by teams comprised of individuals with similar objectives. The inclusion of multiple perspectives in the management of health care organizations provides benefits of diverse experiences and knowledge. However, sharing leadership responsibility in teams also have many challenges from organizations. This article defines team leadership and its characteristics. Additionally, it discusses challenges experienced by team leaders and evaluates the effectiveness of team leadership.

Description of Team Leadership and its Characteristics

Team leadership is the collaborative manner in which an interdependent group within an organization identifies emerging issues and solves them together (Cocowitch, Orton, Daniels & Kiser, 2013). Team leadership allows leaders to connect about their interdependent work and share their expertise and challenges (Nahavandi, 2014).

Team leadership is characterized by various factors that enhance members’ leadership roles. Firstly, team leadership requires sharing of goals that reflect the priorities of all the members. These goals have to be clearly articulated, understood, and supported by each member of the team (Van Dierendonck, 2011). Secondly, team leadership sets clear roles defining each member’s responsibilities, functions, and accountabilities. This optimizes the efficiency of the team by taking advantage of each member’s core competencies thereby achieving better results (Keenan et al., 2014). Thirdly, mutual trust is essential to team leadership. Members have to earn each other’s trust and develop concrete norms of reciprocity. Finally, team leadership is characterized by effective communication. This requires teams to improve their communication skills continuously ensuring each member receives complete communication.

Challenges of Team Leadership in Organizations

Team leadership experiences challenges in its application in healthcare organizations. Two of the most significant challenges are organizational culture and lack of adequate leadership training. Culture may influence the type of relationships, nature, and form of interactions across all levels (Lester & Kezar, 2012). A culture that does not enhance trust, communication, and feedback affects team leadership. Additionally, culture makes it hard to change the perspective that an organization is under team leadership (Foster, 2013). Most organizational cultures support a system of leadership that has only one person who can sort all problems and take the blame when everything goes wrong. Thus, leaders have to create and model behaviors that inspire to support team leadership across all organizational levels (Srivastava & Vyas, 2015).

Lack of proper training for the members is a challenge to team leadership. Organizations fail to allocate resources that will train leaders before the adoption of this type of leadership approach. Therefore, members are not well prepared to work within leadership teams. They must learn how to manage the leadership changes arising from team leadership including effective communication and transparency (Arroliga, Huber, Myers, Dieckert, & Wesson, 2014).

Evaluation of Team Leadership Approach

The capacity of a healthcare organization’s leadership is more effective when leaders perform leadership roles as a unit (Ortega, Van den Bossche, Sánchez-Manzanares, Rico & Gil, 2014). Team leadership fixes any leadership deficits by adding new competencies. It reduces the occurrence of poor interpersonal habits, assists leaders in gaining confidence in their capabilities, and increases their insight and awareness (Franz & Mastrangelo, 2014). Members are required to loosen their control without losing control thereby strengthening and gaining desirable leadership traits. Moreover, organizations benefit from transparency in decision making which supports the accomplishment of commitments. Additionally, team leadership cultivates a culture of collaboration in the organization that enhances success in all areas (Al-Sawai, 2013).


Team leadership is the performance of leadership roles through a team that has similar goals and objectives for a healthcare organization. Members identify and solve organizational problems together and engage in a collective making decisions process. Team members adhere to factors such as transparency, effective communication, and similar objectives to be successful in their leadership roles. However, they have to overcome various challenges that are faced by team leadership. Nevertheless, this leadership approach is more effective compared to a single leader’s approach since it provides many benefits to organizations.


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