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Transformational Leaders

Mar 4, 2019 | Leadership

Transformational Leaders

Hi All,

This month’s blog is inspired by International Women’s Day 2019 and its theme #BalanceforBetter. The campaign, which is rooted in a drive for gender parity, is marked by a celebration and collection of events on March 8th, International Women’s Day. Locally, there are many activities happening this year and HDGH is participating in two of them. On the 7th , I will be one of four female panelists at an event hosted by the University of Windsor’s EPICentre and on the 8th , will be attending HDGH and In Honour of the Ones We Love “Windsor’s Unsung Female Heroes” event that is SOLD OUT!

I have been thinking a lot about women’s rights, gender parity and feminism lately and have some thoughts I’d like to share with you all for a couple of reasons;

One - I am part of the small minority of female hospital CEO’s in our country and for that reason we need to be talking about this issue and,

Two – our hospital’s focus is on creating a healthier community. That can’t be achieved without talking about inequity in all its forms.

What would it mean in our city, region, province, country and world to achieve gender balance? To reach a place where we no longer have to talk about women’s rights? Where we no longer have a healthcare system where the majority of the workforce is female (82%) but in leadership we find less than 30% of health organizations are led by women?


To answer this question, I went into the research – specifically the transformational feminist/female leadership research – to review some of the literature about what women leaders bring to the table that’s different. I didn’t just look at all women leaders who happened to be female, but instead women who work from a transformational leadership perspective that value full female participation and equal rights.

What I found in reading a few articles provided by our small but mighty research team here at HDGH was fascinating. For purposes of this “shortish” blog I’ll be referencing one specific article- Transformational Leadership: The feminist connection in postmodern organizations, Barker and Young, 1994. This article best represents what I want to discuss today, and what kind of leadership we will need moving forward into the brave new world of healthcare transformation (I encourage you to read it yourselves for the best understanding of their perspectives/arguments).


According to Baker and Young (1994) transformational leadership is:

When one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality. Transformational leadership is moral leadership in that it has a transforming effect on both the leader and the follower, bringing out the best in each. (p.18)


Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Leaders who don’t tell you what to do but help you to figure out the “how” and the “why.” To me that is the essence of what we need moving into this brave new world of health care reform.

Now let’s add in the female perspective to this idea. What do women bring to this definition of leadership that is already progressive in nature?

In this article, the authors talk about women’s ways of knowing and thinking, and how it’s different. Women do their work through a web of relationships that build up both parties. We share our power for the benefit of the larger picture. Women build webs of interconnectedness that is at its heart a coalition or network of intent – and that intent being the success of all of those involved or being served – not just the success of the individual. The language of this is telling; support, empathy, connections, cooperation, relationships, listening etc. In reading, I can’t help but think of all the partners we have here at HDGH, partners with whom we share our knowledge, our learning, our resources from time to time - our power, if you will. In the examples I can think of involving our formal and more informal partnerships we have grown stronger and more connected to our community and so have our partners.

There is so much more to talk about in this article that I just don’t have the space to reflect on today so I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts in general and some disclaimers about what I’m not saying.

  • Clearly not all women leaders are feminists or transformational leaders – so don’t @ me to tell me that :)
  • Many male CEO’s are transformational leaders – many are not. Leadership isn’t about gender specifically. However, when you have the trifecta of a self-confident female leader who believes in transformational leadership and is committed to principles of equity, democracy and doing the right thing for the right reason it’s a good thing – actually it’s a great thing.
  • I can name many of these female transformational leaders in the healthcare system today and their organizations, the people they serve and their results are outstanding. Our healthcare system is about to go through a massive change. We need more CEO’s that care about these things and for sure we need a lot of them to be women.

At about 30% today, we have a long way to go to reach gender parity in healthcare CEO selection. Oh and keep in mind a lot of the current female CEOs are in a similar age bracket as myself where retirement is looking better and better so we’d better get moving on getting the next generation ready – with massive reform on the way, we’re going to need them.

Thanks for reading!

As always, I’m happy to receive comments or questions to Follow me at kafferjkaffer on Twitter to keep up with what’s happening at HDGH.



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