Learning while leading: a realist evaluation of an academic leadership programme Academic Article uri icon

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  • IntroductionMany academic health centres and universities have implemented leadership development programmes; however, their potential impact in different contexts in healthcare remains unknown. We assessed the impact of an academic leadership development programme on the self-reported leadership activities of faculty leaders in their respective work contexts.MethodsTen faculty leaders who participated in a 10-month leadership development programme between 2017 and 2020 were interviewed. The realist evaluation approach was used to guide deductive content analysis, allowing concepts related to what works for whom, why and when to emerge from the data.ResultsFaculty leaders benefited in different ways depending on the organisational context (eg, culture) in which they reside and their individual contexts (eg, personal aspirations as a leader). Faculty leaders who have minimal mentorship in their leadership role gained an increased sense of community and belongingness with peer leaders and received validation in their personal leadership approach from the programme. Faculty leaders with accessible mentors were more likely than their peers to apply the knowledge they learnt to their work settings. Prolonged engagement among faculty leaders in the 10-month programme fostered continuity of learning and peer support that extended beyond programme completion.ConclusionsThis academic leadership programme included participation of faculty leaders in different contexts, resulted in varying impacts on participants’ learning outcomes, leader self-efficacy and application of acquired knowledge. Faculty administrators should look for programmes with a multitude of learning interfaces to extract knowledge, hone leadership skills and build networks.


  • Li, Shelly-Anne
  • Chen, Ruth
  • Tong, X Catherine
  • Wong, Anne K
  • Chan, Teresa

publication date

  • November 18, 2021