- Dr Amanda H. Goodall (Principal Investigator)
Research by Dr Amanda Goodall is changing attitudes about the importance of expertise in middle management and leadership.
Dr Goodall dispels comments by UK government minister Michael Gove that ‘the country has had enough of experts’, by proving that organisations led and managed by core business specialists outperform those that are not.
This work has been adopted in healthcare, schools, universities, sports, politics, and engineering, with policy change as a result in the USA, Australia, India, the UK and Denmark.
What did we explore and how?
Non-experts have risen in prominence. This is evident in politics, witnessed through the unsuitable pandemic appointments, and in organisations, in the shift towards managerialism and generalist managers, away from technical experts. This, Dr Goodall says, is a mistake.
Her research shows, across many different settings, that organisations perform better, and employees are happier, when core business experts manage and lead.
Hospitals led by doctors outperform those run by non-medical managers. Universities, business schools and academic departments led by good scholars outperform those that are not. The best sports teams – using data from 15,000 basketball games and 60 years of Formula 1 racing – are led by great former players or run by racing specialists.
The expert leadership finding is robust and been replicated many times.
Dr Goodall and co-authors find that when employees are managed by experts, they report higher job satisfaction (which is tied to performance) and lower quit intentions. A competent boss, who has ‘walked the walk’, can empathise, motivate, develop their employees, and create the right work environment for them to succeed.
Importantly, they are credible - just look at how the best tech companies are run.
Benefits and influence of this research
Dr Goodall’s work has achieved impact, particularly in the healthcare. Dr Steve Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, cited her research as changing the NHS’ thinking about medical leadership. This resulted in ministerial action and inclusion in the NHS People Plan, and the citing of her work in parliament.
Dr Goodall has given keynote speeches about her research around the world, including to government ministers in several countries. The CEO of The American Association for Physician Leadership, representing 10,000 US doctors, described her work as ‘seminal’ and that ‘health care is better as a result of the insights Dr Goodall and her team provide’.
In 2014, South Australia Mental Health Services’ waiting times for acute mental health patients were halved after Dr Goodall’s work informed the view that medical leadership was needed to transform the sector.
The Executive Director of School Leadership Programmes at Ambition Institute, has used her work to change policy on educational leadership, and to inform and develop around 7,000 school Heads a year across the country.