Leadership in interprofessional healthcare teams: Empowering knotworking with followership

Lara Varpio*, Pim Teunissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Healthcare professionals need to be able to collaborate in interprofessional healthcare teams (IHTs). This paper discusses how healthcare professionals (can) contribute to IHT effectiveness. Using cultural historical activity theory and its affiliated concept of knotworking, it argues that healthcare professionals would benefit from developing not just leadership but also followership skills. Moreover, IHT collaborators need the ability to switch fluently between leader and follower roles as appropriate to advance patient care. This fluency is essential for collaborative knotworking. Knotworking refers to the process of tying and retying together individual threads of activity and expertise from across the IHT, over time, to achieve specific objects. Knotworking highlights the dynamic dimensions of IHT collaboration that require professionals to be both effective leaders and followers. The perspectives presented in this paper lead to a different view of IHTs, one that recognizes how leaders and followers co-produce the leadership teams need.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Teacher
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • CHAT
  • Knotworking
  • followership
  • healthcare
  • leadership


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