Unveiling the Impact of Lean Leadership on Continuous Improvement Maturity: A Scoping Review

Jesse Jorian Hilverda, Oskar Roemeling*, Edin Smailhodzic, Kjeld Harald Aij, Eveline Hage, Amal Fakha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


PURPOSE: Lean Management (LM) is a process improvement approach with growing interest from healthcare organizations. Obtaining a culture of continuous improvement is a primary objective of LM, and a culture of continuous improvement indicates a mature LM approach, and here leadership plays a central role. However, a comprehensive overview of leadership activities influencing LM maturity is lacking. This study aims to identify leadership activities associated with continuous improvement and, thus, LM, maturity.

METHODS: Following the PRISMA guidelines, a scoping literature review of peer-reviewed articles was conducted in twenty healthcare management journals. The search provided 466 articles published up until 2023. During the selection process, 23 studies were included in the review. The leadership activities related to continuous improvement maturity were identified using the grounded theory approach and data coding.

RESULTS: The analysis highlighted a total of 58 leadership activities distributed across nine themes of LM leadership. Next, analysing leadership activities concerning the different maturity levels revealed three maturity stages: beginner, intermediate, and expert. Based on the findings, we propose a framework that guides suitable leadership activities at the various stages of LM maturity. The framework provides leaders in healthcare with a practical overview of actions to facilitate the growth of the LM approach, and the related propositions offer academics a theoretical basis for future studies.

CONCLUSION: This review presents the first comprehensive overview of LM leadership activities in relation to continuous improvement and LM maturity. To enhance LM maturity, leaders are encouraged to consider their leadership style, (clinical) stakeholder involvement, alignment with the organizational strategy, and their role in promoting employee autonomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-257
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of healthcare leadership
Publication statusPublished - 10-Oct-2023

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