Challenging gender stereotypes and advancing inclusive leadership in the operating theatre

Rebecca D. Minehart, Erica Gabrielle Foldy, Jennifer A. Long, Jennifer M. Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Modern healthcare is delivered by interprofessional teams, and good leadership of these teams is integral to safe patient care. Good leadership in the operating theatre has traditionally been considered as authoritative, confident and directive, and stereotypically associated with men. We argue that this may not be the best model for team-based patient care and promote the concept of inclusive leadership as a valid alternative. Inclusive leadership encourages all team members to contribute to decision-making, thus engendering more team cohesion, information sharing and speaking up, and ultimately enhancing team effectiveness. However, the relational behaviours associated with inclusive leadership are stereotypically associated with women and may not in fact be recognised as leadership. In this article we provide evidence on the advantages of inclusive leadership over authoritative leadership and explore gender stereotypes and obstacles that limit the recognition of inclusive leadership. We propose that operating teams rise above gender stereotypes of leadership. Inclusive leadership can elicit maximum performance of every team member, thus realising the full potential of interprofessional healthcare teams to provide the best care for patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e148-e154
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • anaesthesia
  • gender
  • group processes
  • leadership
  • operating theatre
  • patient safety
  • surgery
  • teamwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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