Leadership ability is the most important role of all nurses, and to be a great leader one must know the different styles of leadership. Developing future nurse leaders is a great challenge in today’s nursing profession and powerful leadership skills are needed by all nurses in every aspect of the profession. Leadership quality is the way an individual inspires a group of nurses to achieve greatness in the established goal that has been set in front of them (Seller, Coeval, & Torsions, 2006).
According to Hood (as cited in Agnes, 2005) “Leadership s defined as a process of influencing others or guiding or directing others to attain mutually agreed upon goals” (p. 457). This paper will describe four different leadership styles, and the effectiveness of each style as dependent upon the situation. Review of the Professional Nursing Literature All nurses are leaders but may not recognize the different types of leadership or traits of an effective leader (Sims, 2009). There are four leadership styles to consider, the first one is autocratic or authoritarian.
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The autocratic leader is someone who usually needs to dominate others. The autocratic approach is often one-sided and the leader is likely attempting to achieve a single goal or objective (Sims, 2009). Autocratic leadership is a behavior in which a leader makes choices with no involvement from any peers, regardless if those ideas are better suited for the organization. This type of leader requires constant pressure and direction to get the task done. This type of leader provides clear expectations for what, when, and how a process should be done without consulting employees.
Organizations that have this type of leader tend to see a high turn-over of employees and absenteeism for the simple fact that employees don’t feel valued. This approach would not be the way to get the best performance from the team. The implementation of this style of leadership could be used in a situation where an immediate decision needs to be made such as a crisis in an emergency room. The second leadership style is democratic or participative. This style is one that encourages employees to be a part of the decision making process.
This type of leader keeps employees informed about everything that affects the work being done, and shares in the problem solving situation. A drawback of this type of leader is that the leader could be dewed as not being able to make a decision; therefore, the employees may not respect this style and view this leader as not being a true leader. The democratic leader uses the team approach and is the coach in the process, but has the final say when the group comes to a consensus.
Implementation of a democratic leadership style can best be executed in a situation where a process or practice change is needed, such as documentation on electronic medical records. With this leadership style the leader can get staff ideas and suggestions for a smooth transition to the change. This not only increases job satisfaction by involving am members, but it also helps to develop people’s skills. This method inspires a group effort, but it can take lots of time for the leader to develop and come to an end to the topic at hand (Sims, 2009). The leader may spend a lot of time in discussions, sending emails, or scheduling meetings.
This leader may be happy to do this to see that staff are working together to achieve a better outcome, but it can also be a time-consuming process. A good democratic leader encourages staff participation, is supportive, but never loses sight that the leader is the one responsible for the final decision. This leader must accept that the outcome may turn out differently than originally planned. Transactional leadership is the third style, and is one where the leader focuses on the day to day tasks of the team, and makes sure that the work is completed.
Transactional leadership is really a type of management, not a true leader style, because the focus is on short- term tasks. Transactional leaders set a goal, provide directions, and then reward the employee if performance is met at an acceptable level (McGuire & Keenly, 2006). Transactional leadership style can best be used when a state survey is asking place and if successful, then reward will be given to the employees. These leaders use this style to get the desired outcomes. Transactional leaders give tasks to be done by the employee, and if it’s done wrong then the employee is accountable.
If the task is completed to this leaders standard, then the employee is rewarded. This type of leader doesn’t focus on the staffs needs, or personal development, instead the staff must adhere to what the leader wants. Transactional leaders often work under the assumption that if everything is working fine, then there is no need to fix anything. Under this type of leader, here is no interest in change, and the employee will not feel any job satisfaction. The fourth leadership style is the transformational leader.
This style of leadership is one that’s very appropriate in many corporate situations because of the wide range of abilities and approaches that are drawn upon. This style focuses on the leader and the employee working together for a common goal. This type of leader has a vision for the organization, and inspires employees to solve problems creatively in a way that provides support and encouragement without diminishing the nursing role (Salesman, 2004). Transformational leaders have several traits that inspire the employee to utilize the strengths to improve the team, have better staff satisfaction, and reduce stress (Webber, 2010).
Transformational leaders are coaches, or mentors; they show respect, have empathy, and utilize individual leader skills to promote change. These leaders are very energetic and passionate about the job, and concerned about all staff in succeeding. These leaders set good examples, clear goals, and recognizes good work from the team. Transformational leaders should remain a part of the team ND share in the work load to better understand the team’s viewpoint. With this leader style, there is a higher level of committed employees, reduced stress, and increased morale (Dunham & Slacken, 1990).
This in turn creates an employee who will provide a positive outlook when change is taking place and increases employee job satisfaction. Application of Clinical Example A clinical example of when transformational leader style would work best is when an organization is going through a change process, such as the way report is given. Transformational leaders motivate staff to work towards a greater good ND create a positive change (Dunham & Slacken, 1990). Many nurses don’t like change in the way care is provided, but when it’s important for patient safety change is inevitable.
Nurses changing over to standard work in the way report is given can be challenging. Nurses are used to giving report via a tape recorder or orally in a room bathyspheres. When standard work was created around the way report was given, a team was created with a leader in mind. This leader was able to set clear goals, create a vision, and support the team for what bedside reporting was to look like. The team was reared with individuals that looked beyond their own self-interests and focused more on team interests and needs.
The nurses that lead certain aspects of the project enhanced individual leadership skills and also made other nurses aware of what contributions could be made. This leader promoted the change and was able to engage the team members in creating empowered nurses to believe that the opinions of the nurses were of value. When this process was implemented, the team was energize and had ownership in the outcome, which in turn was received well by all other staff members who then bought into the change. This situation proved that transformational leadership style was successful, and enhanced the nursing practice.
Conclusion There are many ways to lead and every leader has their own style. The different leadership styles listed above are sometimes more effective in different situations, and to be effective in the workplace, the leader must be able to switch styles. Nurses who are leaders must continue to develop through a never ending process of self-study, continuing education, training, and personal experiences (Salesman, 2004). A true exceptional leader is not one who has a set method, but ether a combination of the autocratic, democratic, transactional, and transformational leadership styles.