The purpose of this study was to investigate the leadership frames of physiotherapy managers in Ireland. To be effective leaders in today’s challenging healthcare environment physiotherapy managers must employ a comprehensive, adaptable and balanced leadership style. Physiotherapy managers were surveyed using the Bolman and Deal Leadership Orientations Instrument. The survey was administered to members of the Chartered Physiotherapists in Management employment group (n=73) of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists via email.
Forty-five physiotherapy managers responded to the survey to give a response rate of 62%. The human resource frame was the most frequently used (61%) and the political frame was the least (9%). The majority of respondents reported using only one or no frames at all (65%). When asked about their effectiveness as a manager 33% of respondents (n=14) gave themselves the top rating of 5, whereas 19% of respondents (n=8) gave themselves the top rating for their leadership effectiveness. There was a statistically significant trend between the number of leadership frames a physiotherapy manager used and their perceived effectiveness as a manager (TJT=380, z=1.975, p=0.048) and as a leader (TJT=431, z=3.245, p=0.001).
The physiotherapy managers’ use of the human resource frame demonstrates that they see the building of relationships as key to effective leadership. Development of physiotherapy managers’ underused skills through appropriate leadership development training may enhance their leadership skill set and make them more confident as leaders.