The present work investigates what leadership means to hospital managers and chief physicians in Swiss hospitals and how their individual constructions influence their leadership interaction. To answer these questions the author first, develops a social constructionist and interactionist process perspective of leadership and second, presents a qualitative, empirical study. The data show that hospital managers and chief physicians have very different understandings of leadership and that these understandings are closely linked to their self-concepts. To account for this finding, the author extends the theoretical reasoning and the empirical analysis by incorporating an identity perspective, thereby connecting the construction of leadership with the interaction partners' identities. The resulting model presents leadership as identity work. Accordingly, leadership is not only about organizing and managing specific tasks but about negotiating and confirming the interaction partners' identities. The proposed leadership model is not only theoretically well grounded but also based on empirical findings; it is therefore of high relevance for researchers and practitioners alike.
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