Aims. This article is a report on a study investigating how leadership is perceived in community nursing teams and how these perceptions are translated into working practices of team leaders.\ud \ud Background. The consensus in community nursing literature is that leadership is important, and especially so in a time of change. However, little empirical evidence exists on how leadership works in practice.\ud \ud Method. The study adopted an exploratory descriptive design, utilising individual semi-structured interviews and focus groups in four case-studies, with a total of 54 participants. Two case-studies focussed on district nursing teams and two involved public health nursing teams, located in two geographical areas. Participants debated their understanding of the concept of leadership, its associated practices and behaviours in teams, if they saw themselves as leaders, and what preparation was required. The study was undertaken in 2009. Framework analysis techniques were employed to analyse the data.\ud \ud Findings. A ‘quasi-family’ model of leadership emerged, with significant emphasis on the importance of personal relationships and support. Nursing grade had a greater impact on perceptions of leadership than geographical context or professional and clinical focus.\ud \ud Conclusion. No clear fit with any existing theoretical framework was identified. However, nurses in the highest grade banding, in particular, demonstrated practices associated with transformational leadership. Nurses expressed the very clear need to be acknowledged, respected and valued, and that those who provided this support were regarded as good leaders
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