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Leadership Styles in Nursing

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Health care service requires considerable interdisciplinary cooperation. This cooperation does not happen automatically because individuals work for the same organization or share the desire to heal. Depending on an organization’s leadership quality, team members may focus on individual priorities or share a unified agenda.

Health care leaders’ influence on staff members directly impacts organizational performance. Successfully achieving organizational objectives requires teamwork. The success claimed by many health care administrators is not possible without this critical workplace quality. The following four leadership styles help health care managers orient team members toward organizational objectives.

The Transformational Leadership Style

Using transformational leadership, health care managers motivate staff members to pursue common organizational objectives. [1] This style requires the ability to build relationships and communicate forward-thinking ideas. Transformational leaders earn respect and loyalty from their charges by giving the same in return and helping staff members complete tasks that they did not believe they could accomplish.
The number one tool in the transformational leader’s toolkit is encouragement. Transformational leaders commonly take on a mentorship role. This style involves recognizing and helping individuals reach their full potential. By working closely with staff members, transformational leaders support staff members in recognizing and pursing organizational objectives. The rapport shared between managers using this leadership style and team members facilitates acceptance of corporate innovation and change as the caregiving environment evolves.

The Situational Leadership Style

The health care field is continually changing and improving. At times, the dynamic health care environment requires leaders to change management styles accordingly. It takes knowledge and skill to understand the most effective leadership style for a given circumstance. Managers with situational leadership skills are adept at identifying the capabilities of their staff members. This style is critically dependent on the leader’s ability to manage the current work environment in the best possible fashion utilizing currently available employee skills.

To build employee confidence, managers employing the situational leadership style maintain open communication and provide emotional support to staff members. Additionally, managers clearly identify employee roles and performance standards.

Employee enthusiasm determines individual performance when using the situational leadership style. Therefore, managers who must deploy situational leadership develop employees who readily comply with changing organizational objectives.

The Servant Leadership Style

In recent years, servant leadership has grown popular among health care managers. [2] This leadership style involves developing individual employee skills and meeting each employee’s work-related needs. When using the servant leadership style, managers include the entire team in the decision-making process. This inclusive management style develops team loyalty. Servant leaders possess characteristics such as:

  • Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Listening skills
  • Persuasiveness
  • Team-building skills
  • The desire to build team member skills
  • Vision

Driven by these traits and positive ethics, servant leaders encourage the best from all individuals. A primary tenant of the servant leadership style is serving others and helping individuals achieve personal success.
Servant leadership style managers pursue self-awareness in order to understand their staff members. This process causes managers to examine their own ethical and moral belief systems. This is important for servant style leaders, as the practice requires humility and considers how managerial decisions affect those with the least influence. By examining their own beliefs, servant leaders develop a framework that allows them to make equitable decisions for all interested stakeholders.

The Transactional Leadership Style

The transactional leadership style rewards staff members for complying with directives. [1] This style produces short-term satisfaction among staff members. However, managers using this style do not consider the team’s values. Leaders commonly deploy this task-oriented style under tight deadlines or during emergencies. There is a real threat of providing service for patients’ physical needs and little more when the using the transactional leadership style.

Staff members typically view the transactional leadership style as a method used by controlling, close-minded and power-hungry managers. These leaders stress obedience, allegiance and strict adherence to guidelines. Initially, transactional leaders may foster resentment from employees. However, this view may improve if the team produces positive outcomes. While this leadership style does not build morale, it does result in an efficient workplace structure. Over time however, reduced morale can diminish team performance.

While the health care field is currently undergoing phenomenal changes, the current state is chaotic and inefficient. [3] Many parties have a stake in America’s health care system, including patients, service providers, medical personnel and the government. Influence exerted by these various interests often leads to conflict, but it is important to remember that the most important stakeholders are patients. Patients trust care providers with their lives and require medical services at a time when they are most vulnerable. The interactions that patients experience with care providers determine how individuals feel about service delivery. Until medical reforms unite care provider networks and facilitate a single-minded service environment, learning these management styles can help health care leaders unify their talent pools.

Different Styles for Different Situations

Effective health care leaders adapt leadership styles to fit current circumstances and, at the same time, find a balance between challenging, supporting and directing staff members. While some nurse leaders may prefer the servant leadership style, it takes too long to deploy democracy when a patient codes and a hesitant new nurse needs firm, authoritative direction in order to save a life. When defining daily work responsibilities, nurse leaders employ the transactional leadership style to clarify roles and responsibilities, while giving staff members enough freedom to make decisions so as not to micromanage to the point that morale diminishes.

The need for flexibility emphasizes the importance of obtaining knowledge and experience from varying sources. Choosing diverse mentors and professional associates helps nurse leaders achieve this goal. By learning from varied perspectives, leaders prepare themselves to build successful working relationships with peers and produce positive outcomes for patients from varying backgrounds.

Learn More

Adventist University started building its solid foundation for nursing education in 1908 when it began training nurses so healthcare could be provided for more people. Today they offer cutting edge education and experienced faculty dedicated to helping individuals interested in pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing degree.



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