Nursing Leadership Laura Edwards Submitted to Jeanne Morrison PhD, MSN in partial fulfillment of NR622 Advanced Leadership Concepts Regis University October 15, 2011 Nursing Leadership Nursing leaders are crucial to any nursing organization. They motivate, empower, influence, and communicate the organization’s vision to create change within the organization. Great nursing leadership depends on great nursing leaders. This paper will define nursing leadership and describe leadership characteristics. It will further depict the democratic style and transformational theory of nursing leadership.
While exploring leadership in action, this paper will illustrate the aspects of nursing. Nursing Leadership Definition “Leadership has many different meanings” (Northouse, 2010, p. 2). Leadership defines a process where the leader influences others to achieve a common goal. Nursing leadership involves a process, which includes influence, working with groups, and working to attain common goals as per evidenced based practice. As with the process of leadership, characteristics are the framework of leadership.
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Spears (2002) writes having something in trust for someone, helping someone to heal, and understanding and accepting others are basic characteristics to possess in order to be a leader. All of the following characteristics incorporate a life-long learning experience to achieve leadership. Awareness and listening are the most important, because the meaning of what one is saying is more important than the spoken word. Persuading others, to look beyond themselves and think of the team as a whole, is crucial to successful leadership.
To execute a strategic plan, leadership requires developing foresight to project for the future growth of the community. Over time, a leader learns to develop staff. Staff development requires a directive approach early in the new nurse’s job and evolves into a supportive approach as the nurse demonstrates a high level of confidence and skill to get the job done (Northouse, 2010). Conceptualization is articulating and involving the team in analyzing the pro’s and con’s of a process. While developing characteristics, leaders develop styles of leadership depending on situations arising within the team dynamics.
Synonymous in many literary resources, styles and theories characterize nurse leadership. Research demonstrates basic styles include autocratic, bureaucratic, laissez-faire, and democratic, or participative leadership. Northouse (2010) describes a continuum of participative leadership style, which proposes the leaders and followers behaviors influence each other. Nursing leadership depends on the skill of determining which style of leadership to use centering on the follower’s needs. Democratic style of leadership allows everyone to work together to make decisions or to solve problems.
This style addresses nursing leadership as it fosters team satisfaction and personal self-worth by empowering nurses in the decision-making process. A leader understands the follower’s perspective and the follower’s feel they have a stake in the organization. A leadership style refers to the way in which a leader implements a theory of nursing leadership. Three theories of nursing leadership include transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire. Sharing a vision and eliciting decision-making by the group is the basis of transformational theory.
Transactional leadership occurs when rewarding the team for goals met or providing oversight only when a problem occurs. Allowing staff with high motivation to proceed with their duties with little supervision is laissez-faire leadership. Out of several theories, transformational leadership fits nursing leadership due to the relationship between the leader and the follower. This theory describes an interdependent relationship between the two. “Staff nurses at the bedside 24 hours a day, seven days a week are on the front lines and have a distinct power to influence sustainable outcomes and productivity” (Valentine, 2002, para. ). In this relationship, each must work through phases including conflict resolution and negotiation as part of the process. Transformational theory further explains leadership must include exhibiting a degree of emotional intelligence. This occurs when perceiving how others feel, understanding how the feelings lead to thinking, understanding the emotions, and managing emotions internally. In respects to this theory, emotional intelligence enhances this bi-directional relationship between the leader and the followers (Spears, 2002).
Transformational theory reminds leaders of how their behavior influences their team members by building trust in the organization, showing how they fit in the organization, and sharing a vision together (Northouse, 2010). Even though all nursing theories share unique criticisms, Northouse (2010) goes on to suggest “more attention should be directed toward how leaders can encourage followers to challenge the leader’s vision and share in the leadership process” (p. 189). A self-assessment tool, such as the multifactor leadership questionnaire (MLQ), can assist the leader in understanding how they can improve their leadership qualities.
MLQ examples might include evaluating the awareness of being open to others opinions, demonstrating confidence, or assisting in developing others leadership strengths. Leadership in Action As nursing leadership characteristics, styles, and theories are important to study, the aspects of nursing leadership are important to understand. Creating vision includes understanding the core values and the aspirations of the organization. Strategic goals are vital for the organization’s growth and direction (Judge, 1999). Communicating the goals, allows for shared vision, which is the basis of a transformational style of leadership.
Judge (1999) reveals how effective leadership is creative and has three creative fruits. The fruits describe leading team members with inspiration by a shared vision, understanding strategic goals, and trusting in the leader to lead. He further discusses leadership as serving a greater good. Sharing the organizational vision initiates team collaboration. Team building follows when there is a vision, a mission, honesty, accountability, trust, and effective communication. To build a team, World Health Organization (2007) describes the five phases of a team’s development: forming, storming, norming, performing, and dissolving.
Initial phase occurs through selection of team members. As the team members work together in expressing opinions in the group setting, the team moves on to solving problems while setting policy on handling conflicts. The next to last phase is to monitor results, and last phase transpires when moving on to other projects. From building teams to handling conflict, effective collaboration allows an opportunity to sharpen verbal and listening skills. Townsley (n. d. ) reviews anger can be constructive to problem solving but conversely, counterproductive to teamwork. Anger can be a catalyst for communication.
Team members have to be receptive to expressing their feelings, letting go of anger, and arriving at a compromise when solving problems. To deal effectively with team conflict, members have to be willing to see themselves as part of the group. Open and honest communication builds trust within the team. As with trust, ethical behavior is an important aspect of leadership. Northouse (2010) writes the ethical leadership encompasses the discipline of serving others. His research stresses building communities occurs as the leader demonstrates caring by respecting team members, showing fairness, and participating in honest communication.
Ethical leadership is transformational as it involves caring for the group by demonstrating influence over the group while engaging the team members to work towards common goal and for the common good of all those it serves. In further research, Heifetz, Burns, and Greenleaf perspectives portray a common theme in ethical behavior is caring (Northouse, 2010). Leaders, who choose to lead, must also choose to serve. To put other’s needs, wants, and goals ahead of the leader is an altruistic form of leadership. Spears (2002) shares a common theme of caring is in all disciplines of ethical behavior.
As with previous aspects of nursing leadership, spirituality is part of a leader’s character and develops from inward reflection and prayer. “Spirituality is central to executive character” (Judge, 1999, p. 108). Spears (2002) illustration of spirituality is different from Judge’s (1999) hierarchical order, whereas the brain’s spirit, intellect, and heart are consistent with quantum, serial, and parallel thinking of the brain. Answering to a higher calling is the essence of spirituality. Those that practice spirituality are more in touch with themselves and learn how to be forgiving and let go of feelings which allows anger to dissipate.
Conclusion Citing the research in this paper, describing nursing leadership includes an understanding of characteristics, styles, theories, and aspects of leadership. Demonstrating the appropriate leadership style depending on the needs of the team is key to nursing leadership. To be willing to change as leaders grow in their leadership characteristics will enable a more caring community. As the leader-follower relationship is bi-directional and interdependent, it allows for creation of vision, team building, effective communication during team conflict, ethical behavior, and demonstration of spiritual leadership.
Practicing spirituality enables a leader to transform into a spiritual leader for a lifelong commitment in which to serve others. References Judge, W. Q. (1999). The leader’s shadow: Exploring and developing executive character. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice (5th ed. ). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Spears, L. C. , Lawrence, M. (eds. ) (2002). Focus on leadership: Servant-leadership for the twenty-first century. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Townsley, C. A. n. d. ). Resolving conflict in work teams. The team building directory. Retrieved on September 28, 2011 from: http://www. innovativeteambuilding. co. uk/pages/articles/conflicts. htm. World Health Organization. (2007). Team building. Retrieved September 21, 2011 from: http://www. who. int/cancer/modules/Team%20building. pdf Valentine, S. (2002). Nursing leadership and the new nurse. Journal of Undergraduate Nursing Scholarship (4)1. Retrieved on September 2, 2011 from: http://www. juns. nursing. arizona. edu/articles/Fall%202002/Valentine. htm.