Credentials Display

Clark Patrick Heard, OTD, OT Reg. (Ont.); Jared Scott, MScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.); Tanisha McGinn, MScOT (candidate); Emily Van Der Kamp, MScOT (candidate); Amjad Yahia, MScOT (candidate)


Background: Leadership is vital to clinical, organizational, and professional success. This has compelled a high volume of research primarily related to formal leadership concepts. However, as organizations flatten, eliminate departmental structures, or decentralize leadership structures the relevance of informal leaders has markedly enhanced.

Methods: Using a qualitative phenomenological methodology consistent with interpretative phenomenological analysis, this study examines the impact of informal leadership in the clinical setting for occupational therapists. Data was collected through the completion of semi-structured interviews with 10 peer-identified informal occupational therapy leaders in Ontario, Canada. Collected data was transcribed verbatim and coded for themes by multiple coders. Several methods were employed to support trustworthiness.

Results: The results identify that informal leaders are collaborative, accessible, and ­considered the “go to” staff. They demonstrate professional competence knowledge, experience, and accountability and are inspirational and creative. Practically, informal leaders organically shape the practice environment while building strength and capacity among their peers.

Conclusion: Recommendations for supporting informal leaders include acknowledgement of the role and its centrality, enabling informal leaders time to undertake the role, and supporting consideration of informal leadership concepts at the curriculum and professional level.


The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.