From Followership to Shared Leadership: The Changing Role of the Patient in the Healthcare Team

  • Mark A. Clark
  • Martina Buljac-Samardžić
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Leadership and Followership book series (PASTLEFO)


This chapter explores the changing role of the patient in healthcare teams through the perspective of follower-centered and shared leadership theories, offering individual and team-context factors that influence this role. Healthcare practice increasingly supports patient proactivity in managing their own medical needs, shaped by factors within the team context and at the patient level that move the patient role from follower to leader through sharing complementary knowledge, authority, and responsibility for health service choices. The team context, encompassing broad economic and social realities, includes factors of increased healthcare system and medical complexity, trends in societal demographics, resource limitations, technology in healthcare, culture, and the informed patient. At the patient level, factors affecting participative roles in the healthcare team include a range of personal characteristics, health perceptions, knowledge and information access, relationship with medical professionals, and the informal support network. Through this overview, we aim to contribute to the paradigm shift needed to achieve an appropriate level of followership and shared leadership in healthcare, with the ultimate goal of improving patient well-being within a sustainable healthcare system.


Leadership Patient Medical teams Health care Followership 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark A. Clark
    • 1
  • Martina Buljac-Samardžić
    • 2
  1. 1.Kogod School of BusinessAmerican UniversityWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Institute Health Policy and ManagementErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

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