Characteristics, Identification, Training, and Perception of Leaders in Respiratory Care.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Respiratory care


washington; everett; prmc; leadership; leadership behaviors; leadership characteristics; leadership success; management; respiratory care practitioner; respiratory therapist; respiratory therapy


BACKGROUND: Leadership is critical to high-functioning teams; however, data are lacking for what defines successful respiratory therapist (RT) leadership. Leaders need a wide range of skills to be successful, although the exact characteristics, behaviors, and accomplishments of successful RT leaders are unknown. We performed a survey of respiratory care leaders to evaluate different aspects of RT leadership.

METHODS: We developed a survey of RT leaders to examine respiratory care leadership in a variety of professional settings. Different aspects of leadership and the relationships between perceptions of leadership and well-being were assessed. Data analysis was descriptive.

RESULTS: We received 124 responses, with a response rate of 37%. Respondents had a median 22 y of RT experience, and 69% were in leadership positions. The most-important skills identified for potential leaders were critical thinking (90%) and people skills (88%). Self-initiated projects (82%), intradepartmental education (71%), and precepting (63%) were noted accomplishments. Reasons for exclusion from leadership included poor work ethic (94%), dishonesty (92%), difficulty getting along with others (89%), unreliable (90%), and not being a team player (86%). Most respondents (77%) agreed American Association for Respiratory Care membership be a requirement for leadership; however, 31% required membership. Integrity (71%) was noted consistently as a characteristic of successful leaders. There was no consensus for behaviors of successful versus unsuccessful leaders or what defines successful leadership. Ninety-five percent of leaders had received some leadership training. Respondents reported that well-being is affected by leadership, departmental culture, peers, and leaders with burnout; 34% of respondents felt people with burnout received good support at their institution, whereas 61% felt maintaining well-being is left to individuals.

CONCLUSIONS: Critical thinking and people skills were the most-important skills for potential leaders. Limited consensus existed on characteristics, behaviors, and defined success of leaders. Most respondents agreed leadership influences well-being.


Health Care Administration


Pulmonary Medicine