OBJECTIVES: To explore medical trainees' experiences of leadership and followership in the interprofessional healthcare workplace.
DESIGN: A qualitative approach using narrative interviewing techniques in 11 group and 19 individual interviews with UK medical trainees.
SETTING: Multisite study across four UK health boards.
PARTICIPANTS: Through maximum variation sampling, 65 medical trainees were recruited from a range of specialties and at various stages of training. Participants shared stories about their experiences of leadership and followership in the healthcare workplace.
METHODS: Data were analysed using thematic and narrative analysis.
RESULTS: We identified 171 personal incident narratives about leadership and followership. Participants most often narrated experiences from the position of follower. Their narratives illustrated many factors that facilitate or inhibit developing leadership identities; that traditional medical and interprofessional hierarchies persist within the healthcare workplace; and that wider healthcare systems can act as barriers to distributed leadership practices.
CONCLUSIONS: This paper provides new understandings of the multiple ways in which leadership and followership is experienced in the healthcare workplace and sets out recommendations for future leadership educational practices and research.