Leadership in Nursing

Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing. – Warren Bennis. Leadership in Nursing.

I would like to start by saying that despite numerous definitions leadership is the creative process of leading people, making them do what perhaps they do not want to do, but do it with pleasure. Leadership has numerous approaches and thus is represented by numerous theories starting with the theory of traits and behaviors and ending with the modern contingency theory and the transformational approaches. Leadership is related to motivation and interpersonal behavior within the organization. Effective leadership involves delegation of authority to the subordinates in a dynamic manner. The following essay speaks about midwives, and the role of their supervisors in the overall improvement of quality of medical services provided by a healthcare institution. When looking at any organization, it is of importance to note that there are some people who would show some ‘leadership signs’ while others won’t. Still, despite the common belief, leadership does not always have to be associated with the organizational conflict but rather the special wit of people like Gandhi, Napoleon, Lenin, or George Washington. These people make us understand that there are numerous instances when the decisions and participation of one important person is vital. These people have some outstanding qualities that allow them to know what can be done, when and how. The following essay will analyze two leadership styles, namely servant leadership and transformational (transformative) leadership with respect to Leadership in Nursing. One will discuss their significance and contribution towards nursing within the political and contextual realities of nursing.

Leadership, as one can say involves the following four things (Giuliani, 2001, 90):

  1. Influencing other people.
  2. Some leaders and some must be followers.
  3. Usually leaders come to front in time of crisis and present innovative solution.
  4. Leaders know what they want to achieve and why. They possess vision.

Servant leadership is a rather unique approach to leadership development, which was created by Robert Greenleaf and advocated by other important authors such as Peter Senge or Ken Blanchard (Bass 2000, 22). Servant leadership notes that the role of a leader is to be a servant or a steward of the corporate resources. This type of leadership encourages leaders to serve all other people in the organization while at the same time staying focused on achieving certain results in with the corporate objective, goals or values. Servant leadership due to its focus on help and assistance is very applicable to nursing, the profession in which nurses serve the needs of the patients and ultimately the doctors (Harold 2004, 87).

Servant leadership is probably best represented by the book “The servant as leader” by R. Greenleaf, although the concept of this type of leadership is millennia old. For instance Kautilya, the famous Indian thinker and philosopher wrote about servant leadership already in the IV century. He pointed out that the leaders should use the resources to please their subjects and not themselves just like the king should enjoy the resources of the state together with other people. The Holy bible also stresses the importance of servant leadership in several chapters. For instance, apostle Mark says “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve..” (Mark 10:42-45).

One of the most interesting things about servant leadership is that it is very different from traditional leadership approach. Unlike the traditional leadership approach, which has a top-to-down hierarchy, servant leadership emphasizes collaboration and cooperation, as well as humility, trust, and ethics. The greatest leaders in this situation are servants, who make conscious decisions to lead and govern others via better serving them. A servant leader is not there to increase his/her power. His/her power is actually in the ability to help the others do their jobs more productively.

Despite the advantages that the servant leadership presents to leaders of all levels, there do exist disadvantages which make this type of leadership criticized and rejected. For instance, many view servant leadership as a mix of religious dedication and business leadership. To some it might sound that servant leadership indirectly promotes religion. Others might argue that historically the most important leaders (those who conquered the most land, won the most battles and did other important things) were not really servants. They were authoritarian leaders who boldly pursued their goals without much regard for the needs of others (Odiorne 37).

The concept of servant leadership, which might not always fit for various business companies, certainly does fit the nursing profession.  Since it is the role of a nurse to provide support, assistance, and comfort to the patients as well as professional help to doctors, servant leadership does help them to develop the skills that they really need.

Idealized transformational leadership provides proper vision, sense of mission, belonging, pride, as well as demonstrates high standards of ethical and moral conduct to all corporate members.

We need to remember that at medical institutions and organizations Inspirational Motivation will create more personal commitment of the corporate members, much higher expectations, as well as will create the balanced challenging environment at the workplace that would increase commitment to goals.

  1. Intellectual Stimulation is aimed to support and promote innovation and creativity in corporate teams; together with strive for problem solving, constructive criticism and rationality (Goldsmith 1999, 344).
  2. Individual Consideration at medical institution will provide the needed personal attention and concern to all corporate It will treat them equally and individually in order to establish an optimal working environment and to maximize potential of each corporate team member (Cleveland, 2002, 50).

Empowerment is another powerful tool to motivate the corporate members and form much better teams, yet at the same time it is not considered a universal panacea to problems. Let’s not forget that empowerment is works well only when corporate starts to have effective workforce that possesses the knowledge, skills, and experience to do jobs that needs to be done at corporate. The work force should also seek personal autonomy and is self-directed (Berlew, 1999, 176).

This leadership style is based on challenging the subordinates to participate even better and excel in whatever they do. Here one should consider the following things (Goleman, 221):

  1. Leader-followers relationship. It is believed and proved as correct that if leaders are liked by their followers they are likely to get more support from the others. In the Army leadership, leaders are usually liked by followers since all leadership decisions are made beyond duty to benefit everyone in the group.
  2. Task structure. If the tasks can be easily identified and the goals are clear it is likely that the leader will have more success, simply because it would be more understandable for the followers to engage in the productive process. Here group participation is required for leadership to be implemented. One will need to split the task and assign people to work on the parts (Maxwell, 2001, 89).
  3. Position power. The leaders in the organization oftentimes make use of the position power, i.e. the power they receive from holding a particular office or a position. If a leader wants to increase his/her power, then she/he should assume a particular position to do that. Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and others would have popularity before assuming their high office, yet only after getting into office, they were able to influence millions. In leadership, position provides access to resources and is meant to allow the leader pursue action beyond call of duty (Berlew, 1999, 177).


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