Developing Leadership Skills for Physiotherapy Managers


It has been identified that there is a variance in the level leadership skills held by different Physiotherapy managers. Performance is often measured against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), however many physiotherapists in a managerial role may have not received the appropriate training in how to achieve these measures. A survey was completed by physiotherapy managers across 31 hospital sites in 2019 asking them to identify if they had the appropriate training and support network for them to carrying out the expectations of their job role. 7 reported that they had, 10 reported that they didn't, 4 didn't reply and 10 were unsure. 100% of those that replied felt that a bespoke leadership training programme would be useful for them to develop the skills to drive change.


Physiotherapy Managers were invited to help us identify their skill set and training need. To do this we used a 5 point scoring system based on a 6 pillar leadership capability model for them to self-score themselves against. They were also asked to have a member of their physiotherapy team and, their direct line manager to score them against the same criteria. The scoring system was 1) Significant Development needed, 2) Development Needed, 3) Effective, 4) Strength, 5) significant strength. The 6 pillars of the leadership capability model were: Leads people Leads Strategy Builds Relationships Creates Value Delivers Outcomes Drives Change Individuals were also asked to identify their strengths and specific learning needs in each area. An average score was taken for each individual for each of the 6 pillars and plotted against the rest of the cohort to help identify any patterns.


Results: The Key areas identified on the leadership capability model as needing additional training were Leading Strategy and Driving Change, scoring 3.1/5 and 3.2/5 respectively. Individuals were invited to attend the launch of a bespoke development programme that would include a variety of learning resources including classroom based workshops, interactive online learning, blending learning, peer support and site based projects. The programme involved both directed and self-directed study, allowing for a bespoke approach to meet individual learning needs. Individuals were asked to provide feedback on the programme with an average score of 9.2/10 on value of the programme. All delegates were able to demonstrate an increase in key skills to gather and analyse key metrics to help drive change with their local service.

Conclusion(s): Often good clinicians become physiotherapy managers and find themselves in a job role that they potentially do not have the appropriate experience or training for. This can make it difficult for them to drive change and lead on strategy, to adapt to the ever changing needs of the physiotherapy industry. This can impact on business performance, staff satisfaction and staff turnover, as well as impacting on patient satisfaction and quality of care.

Cost and savings

No additional information. 


The outcome of this development project will help to create a competency framework for those in managerial roles and a development pathway for those wishing to become future leaders, thus allowing for succession planning and workforce development.

Top three learning points

No further information. 

Funding acknowledgements

Nuffield Health