Leadership is the capability to define a vision and guide others towards this vision while ensuring teamwork, effectiveness and commitment. Porter-O`Grady (2003) defines leadership as a comprehensive process of identified targets or goals, motivating individuals or groups of people to act, giving guidance and motivation to achieve commonly agreed goals. Nurse leadership is no different to the general definition of leadership. The main difference between nurse leadership and other leaderships is that, it is applied in a clinical setting, where critical decisions regarding the well being of patients are made. It is the process of setting out goals, guiding individuals and motivating them into providing quality services to the patients and to each other. For a nurse leader, this may entail routine coordination of the day or night shift and team of nurses and other workers on duty under the jurisdiction of the nurse leader (Frankel, 2008). The successful operation of a particular session, morale of the staff and managing hardships or challenging incidences rely entirely on the leadership skills of a nurse leader.
Nurse Leadership Styles
Leadership in nursing is a critical skill that determines the success and effectiveness of health care services provided to patients, which result to a healthy society. To understand leadership in nursing, we may need to look at what an effective leader entail. An effective leader is usually termed as being visionary, full with strategies, a plan and aspiration to guide their followers and services to a future objective (Mahoney, 2001). An effective leader is supposed to exhibit problem solving abilities, maintain group effectiveness and identification. They must be dynamic, enthusiastic, have a motivational influence on others, be solution focused and seek to encourage others.
Nurse leaders must apply these traits in their work so as to win their team members` respect and trust, hence lead to enhancement of clinical practice. By exhibiting an effective leadership style nurse leaders will be in a significant position to influence successful development of other nurses and staff members, ensure the application of professional standards and allow growth for competent practitioners (Giltinane, 2013). The most evident leadership styles in nursing are transformational, democratic, affiliative and servant leadership.
Transformational leadership entails inspiring others towards achieving a common goal. A transformational leader in nursing encourages individual and professional growth of the nurses they lead by promoting teamwork, stressing on self esteem and encouraging employees to engage in the formulation of hospital policies and processes (Giltinane, 2013). This leadership model depends on constructive, charismatic approach to employee management. The approach focuses on confidence, well-built communication skills and integrity. Instead of giving orders and expecting unquestioned compliance, transformational nurse leaders explain the `how` and `why` of hospital processes besides helping nurses comprehend the vision of the facility. To understand the needs and motivation of nurses and other staff, transformational nurse leaders use empathy.
In this leadership style, the interest of the members of a team comes before anything else, stressing on the welfare and job satisfaction of members. An affiliative nurse leader usually takes a passive role in managing fellow nurses and staff, being cautious not to upset them (Giltinane, 2013). In addition, he or she may be hesitant in making decisions, though they try hard to see that tasks are completed on time. It is a good approach in nursing as it helps in boosting nurses` morale or reuniting broken teams. However, it prevents the authority of the leader and can interfere with his or her ability to intervene when decisive action is needed.
Democratic leadership in nursing is common. In this model, the nurse leader includes other staff members in setting goals and in making decisions by soliciting their commendations and feedback. The nurse leader then considers this information with their own findings and opinions. In this model, the nurse is the final decision maker. This approach is applicable in nursing as it allows individual and professional growth of nurses and gives them a sense of autonomy (Giltinane, 2013). With its stress on individual nurses and their role to the team, democratic leadership usually motivates people to take initiative and constantly give their best views. In nursing democratic leadership is effective because of the blend of skill levels and educational backgrounds of the staff. However, its main challenge is the fact that gathering everyone`s opinion can take longer and delay decision making.
Servant leadership is probably one of the truest forms of leadership in health care. In a hospital setting, there is rarely time to know who the boss is and who the employee is. Hence, servant leadership comes in handy. Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy that was first introduced by Robert K. Greenleaf. According to Greenleaf, a servant leader is the one who achieves organizational goals or results by attending to the needs of the ones he or she serves (Greenleaf, 2002). A nurse servant leader in this case is the one who focuses on the needs of his or her staff and consistently asks how he or she can help them resolve issues and enhance their personal growth. The nurse leader interacts with their staff in the effort to meet the needs of patients and he guides his staff in their professional practice. Ultimately, the ability to serve others is their basic motivator for seeking a leadership position.
Florence Nightingale-Servant Leadership
Florence Nightingale is one of the unsung heroes of the Victorian era. Her contribution to nursing leadership is unmatched. Right through her early education, Nightingale developed her sense of duty which she practiced by helping ailing villagers and caring for their children. Having come from a privileged family, this was in deed, servant leadership. Her spiritual awakening that she attributed as a call from God to serve humanity is a trait of a servant leader (O`brien, 2011). The leader is born and serves from the heart. In her unprecedented trip to Europe, Nightingale visited various hospitals and observed their organization, training and discipline. After a long struggle with her parents, she succeeded taking nursing as a career. Her desire though was to serve others and he started by serving invalid women as a Superintendent in London. During Crimean War, Florence Nightingale recruited 38 women and went with them to serve the suffering soldiers she made history (O`brien, 2011). Her intense spirituality and intellect was her inspiration to serve others. Servant leadership is very important in health care environment where benefits or rewards are not a priority, unlike in other organizations. Health is of eminent importance.
Lessons from Florence Nightingale
The most outstanding lesson that Nightingale`s leadership offers to nursing is the principle of self inner motivation. As a nurse, one should lead through the need to serve others and not for personal benefit (O`brien, 2011). She had left a privileged family and a prestigious life to go undesirable environments including war zones just to serve others.
Non Nurse Leadership Styles
Transactional leadership entails provision of leadership in a manner that enable the leader to get what he wants to be accomplished. The transactional leader is well aware of the existing connection involving putting in sweat and then reaping from rewards. Such a leader is very keen on handling emerging issues and relies on standard forms of punishment and reward including an organization`s policies and procedures (Giltinane, 2013). The leader motivates his or her followers through setting targets and promises rewards for achievement of the desired objective. This model is applicable in a profit organization particularly manufacturing and service industries. It is not suitable for clinical setting.
Authoritarian leadership model is characterized by a leader who is responsible for making all decisions within an organization, and expects their directives to be followed to the letter. These leaders usually use authority to intimidate their subordinates and expect no questions about the validity of their instructions. This leadership is suitable for certain settings including military or prison environments. The other styles in nursing cannot be applied in such structured organizations (Brennan, n.d).
A transformational leader is a leader who transforms people or the organization. The main focus of a transformational leader is his or her followers. The leader`s interest is to motivate his followers to produce high degree of performance and as a result be able to develop and identify their own leadership skills (Riggio, 2009). A transformational leader overly inspirational and possess great power and influence.
President Obama`s Leadership-Transformational Leadership
The leadership exhibited by President Barrack Obama has been the discussion of most leadership and management scholars today. When President Obama first took government in 2008, the world was crumbling under global economic crisis, with the United States in particular being hard hit. Throughout his campaigns to white house, Obama exhibited an inspiring form of leadership transformation leadership (Northouse, 2013).
Obama is a transformation leader in many ways. He was able to inspire people to trust him to office even in the most difficult times. His followers overwhelmingly voted him into office believing in him. In him, they had found hope, inspiration and future, a point that can be confirmed through his re-election in 2012. This is a trait evident for a transformational leader. A transformational leader is more probable to inspire, empower and motivate his or her followers to surpass ordinary levels of achievement as they uphold positive expectations for them (Northouse, 2013).
With the worst economic crisis facing the people after the 1930 great economic crisis, Obama did not lose hope. He used his transformational leadership to motivate people to believe that they would together overcome the situation and move on to greater heights. This is characteristic of a transformational leader, as he has greater concern for his followers, and their individual needs and development the leader gains the most out of the followers as well as respect (Riggio, 2009).
Even through difficult times, when some people may doubt whether the vision will ever be attained, a transformational leader maintains an unwavering commitment that keeps his or her followers going to the end. Obama has proved this numerous times. Even at the times when he came to a decision to close Guatemala Bay, his followers were with him despite opposition from opponents.
Transformational leadership has also been exhibited by Obama`s foreign policy. During his first six months in office, he concentrated on improving America`s relations with the rest of the world, including the formidable Middle East (Northouse, 2013). This is something that no other president had dared before. During his time in office, we have seen the President influence or transform Americans into major decisions. The removal of American troops from Iraq was seen as an important initiative in uniting the United States with the Middle East. His handling of current crises and issues such as the Syrian unrest or the tension with Iran is rather transformational, unlike authoritative leadership that was exhibited by his predecessor, George Bush.
Similarities of Nurse Leaders and Non-nurse Leaders
Despite the disparities in the leadership styles of nurses discussed above, nurse leaders and non nurse leaders are bestowed with the responsibility to ensure the smooth running of their organization. Without leadership, things can never get done in any organization, be it a health institution or a business organization. Hence, both nurse leaders and non-nurse leaders must focus on achieving the set goals and desired results.
Leadership is an essential skill in the success of any organization. The leadership styles discussed in this essay including servant leadership, transformational leadership, affiliative leadership, democratic leadership, authoritative leadership, and transactional leadership are just some of the many leadership models. These styles are applicable in both health care and organizational settings, although the ones that work best for nurses have been separated from the ones fit for non-nurse leaders. The transformational leadership style exhibited by the United States President Barrack Obama shows how effective leadership can be in inspiring, motivating and influencing others at the end bringing change. The hope that Obama`s leadership gives to the Americans and the world at large is magnificent. Of notable influence also is the servant leadership in nursing portrayed by the legend nurse leader-Florence Nightingale. She led from the inside, he need to serve those in need was inspired by her awakening Christian values. The lessons and the impact that she made to nursing leadership is one that is value driven. As a nurse leader, Nightingale teaches that one should serve humanity from within rewards and benefits comes from the satisfaction of serving those in need. Nevertheless, nurse leadership and non-nurse leadership play a central role in the running of an organization.
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