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Midwives’ Perceptions of Good Leadership Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 9th, 2021


In their article, Byrom and Downe (2010) provide preliminary evidence, pointing at the applicability of emotional intelligence (EI) and transformational leadership theories to midwifery practice and education. Based on the CASP results, the study possesses numerous strengths, for instance, presents valid findings and uses appropriate methodology. The researchers utilise phenomenological interviews, and their goal is to understand midwives’ perceptions of good leadership. The research design allows analysing subjective experiences and is relevant to the aim. The approaches to recruitment, such as random sampling, sample size, and failure to classify participants based on experience levels, raise some concerns. The use of semi-structured interviews is justified, unlike the selection of data collection points.


Being ethically appropriate, the study is among the first to hypothesise on the uses of transformational leadership in midwifery, but, according to the CASP analysis, the issue of experimenter bias have not been adequately addressed. Byrom and Downe (2010) explain transformational leadership as the articulation of a vision and readiness to initiate positive systemic changes. Byrom and Downe (2010) do not discuss particular applications of “leading from the heart” to midwifery, but their predictions concerning applicability find reflection in more recent articles (p. 135).

Thus, Hewitt, Priddis, and Dahlen (2019) also recommend to promote transformational leadership and EI (create a sense of unity between midwives, etc.) in midwifery. Also, according to Lyberg and Severinsson (2010), the use of EI is an important “way of rethinking midwifery leadership” (p. 397). Despite the absence of clear practical implications, the results can inform the standards of leadership practice in midwifery.

The detailed description of thematic data analysis adds to the credibility of findings and makes all six sub-themes obvious. The article suggests that proper EI and relationship-building competencies are prerequisites to success in midwifery leadership. Importantly, Byrom and Downe (2010) do not propose particular practices for their development, thus limiting the findings’ practical relevance.

However, more modern studies present similar conclusions; the need for positive relationships between midwife leaders, followers, and organisational systems is also stressed by Divall (2015). Many claims by Byrom and Downe (2010) concerning leadership traits are supported by other researchers. Potentially, the identified qualitative themes might be used to perfect the existing training programs to improve midwifery leaders’ performance.


Finally, despite the strengths identified using CASP, the results are quite general, which makes their actual uses in midwifery practice unobvious. The study emphasises the role of EI and relationship-building and mentions the potential of transformational leadership in the field. Since similar conclusions can be found in other credible sources, it is possible to use the competencies stressed in the discussed study to develop training programs and improve practice.


Byrom, S., & Downe, S. (2010). ‘She sort of shines’: Midwives’ accounts of ‘good’ midwifery and ‘good’ leadership. Midwifery, 26(1), 126-137.

Divall, B. (2015). Negotiating competing discourses in narratives of midwifery leadership in the English NHS. Midwifery, 31(11), 1060-1066.

Hewitt, L., Priddis, H., & Dahlen, H. G. (2019). What attributes do Australian midwifery leaders identify as essential to effectively manage a Midwifery Group Practice? Women and Birth, 32(2), 168-177.

Lyberg, A., & Severinsson, E. (2010). Midwives’ supervisory styles and leadership role as experienced by Norwegian mothers in the context of a fear of childbirth. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(4), 391-399.

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