Nursing Leadership in healthcare organizations
Leadership in nursing is critical today as healthcare organizations face many complex and multifaceted challenges in providing high-quality, safe, and cost-effective care. The ever-changing healthcare system has introduced new challenges and adopted new ways of providing care and these require highly trained managers. Being a leader in healthcare requires the utilization of critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision making skills. Specifically, healthcare leaders ought to have skills that can navigate the complex system and make decisions that are acceptable by workers and patients (Khan et al., 2018). Building upon this logic, nurse managers must understand their leadership style to successfully manage their team and drive better patient care. The leaders must also take into account their strengths and weaknesses and learn how to articulate them into their daily management role. This discussion describes my strengths as a transformational leader and how my leadership style might evolve throughout my advanced practice nursing career.
Description of Strengths
During my career as a medical sales representative, I have taken the Strengths Finder assessment several times to identify my professional strengths. Based on the results, my top five strengths include focus, achiever, significance, futuristic, and learner. These strengths define how I practice my nursing career and provide a basis for improvement as I advance to become a better leader.
Reflection on Strengths
The strength of focus helps people to get work done because it allows for the setting of clear and defined destination goals. While focus can be present in every leader, individuals have different abilities to focus on tasks. Some may set goals and put their full strength to achieve while others set the goals constantly and review them to ensure priorities are met. Additionally, focused individuals move with clarity in one direction and are observed to be impatient with delays or obstacles that have the potential to divert their course of action. I believe focused individuals can follow through on tasks, persevere, and thrive in environments where goal setting is a norm. I am an individual who drives change through goal setting. I always set my daily goals before every shift and ensure I have achieved them even if it requires working overtime. I will stay late if I feel something needs to be completed and push colleagues to ensure completion of tasks. Additionally, I do not like interruptions or distractions when working and I am likely to turn a deaf ear to someone or something when I am focused.
I am not surprised to realize that I am an achiever because of my ability to focus on tasks. Achievers are individuals known to have the stamina for hard work and always have a particular motivation that drives the determination. At work, achievers are constantly on the move, checking on the progress of work and consulting to ensure things are done to their perfection. Additionally, the achievers set a certain pace of working that very few people can cope with. They have lists of tasks to be accomplished at the end of every shift and assume a sense of celebration upon achieving set goals. I believe I possess this strength because I get things done. For example, I am always appointed to organize and chair meetings because everyone knows I will work to ensure the success of the plan. I have a hard time sleeping at night if I know there is something I forgot to do. I push myself to work harder each day if I know it will benefit my patients, my employer, and myself.
People live and work for a purpose and while others are after their personal gains, individuals with significance have a strong desire to make a difference. They live presently and make life interesting by investing in others. These individuals have an internal desire to make a difference and they work by making choices, not to their benefit, but for the benefit of others. Individuals with this trait live as role models in society, influence others, and use their experience, knowledge, and expertise to drive change in society. While reflecting on this trait, I believe I am a person who wants to make a difference in the areas I work in. I have engaged in numerous quality improvement practices using evidence-based practices to ensure I leave the institution better than I found it. When I work hard at something and put in the overtime it feels good to get the credit I feel I deserve. For example, I am advancing my nursing career through education so that I can be able to drive change in the future and make the best out of my nursing profession.
People with the strength of futuristic have an incredible ability to see the future and plan to meet its expectations. These are individuals who are driven by dreams and they value the future because it is what excites them. Futuristic characters have plans that go directly into the future and see people at their best state even when they have no hope. Futuristic leaders have plans to solve current problems and engage employees in planning for the future. They always have second plans in place as they prepare for the uncertainties. I think this trait is the biggest reason for me enrolling in the Nurse Practitioner (NP) program at Maryville University. I always think about the bigger picture and how I can increase my practice and improve my quality of life. As a nurse, I always advise patients to think about the future when they will be healthy. I always believe suffering is temporary and people should be optimistic.
Individuals with this strength are drawn to learn new things and become momentarily satisfied when they have learned something new. They find learning a fascinating and energizing activity and often want to be experts in certain fields. Additionally, learners are good observers ready to draw upon their learning style from others. I have always believed I am a learner and I have planned my career to involve continuous education to better my nursing skills. Even with my leadership experience, I always try to learn new things every day through observation.
The concept of transformational leadership has existed for many years and today it is used to measure the success of leaders. It is a leadership style where the leaders encourage, inspire, and motivate employees to create change that can shape the future of an organization. Leaders should be able to influence and inspire others to utilize available resources to make a change. As experts in certain fields, leaders have skills that can help shape the future of healthcare and other organizations using the transformational leadership strategy. Transformational leaders motivate employees to perform beyond expectations and provide guidance at every step (Fischer, 2017). They teach employees how to think critically rather than waiting for instructions on what to do. Because of these traits, transformational leaders are sometimes referred to as quiet leaders who lead by example.
Transformational leaders have traits that distinguish them from others that use different leadership styles. First, these leaders have intellectual stimulation used to challenge the status quo and encouraging creativity among employees. They allow the employees to explore new ways of doing things and present mechanisms to learn new problem-solving approaches. Transformational leaders have individualized consideration used to improve employees and provide support when needed. They maintain open lines of communication to allow employees to share ideas. These leaders give unique recognition to their followers and allow participation in decision making (Fischer, 2017). Another quality is inspirational motivation to employees through goal setting and setting a clear mission, and vision of the organization. They work together with their followers to ensure focus is maintained to the organizational vision. Lastly, transformational leaders are idealized influencers who serve as role models for their followers. They exemplify moral standards within the organization and encourage the same to employees.
Transformational leadership emphasizes the relationship between the leader and the employee. Khan et al (2018) explain that transformational leadership is a relationship between the leader and the follower in which they motivate each other to higher levels, resulting in value system congruence between the leader and the follower. There is substantial evidence that this leadership strategy impacts follower satisfaction and commitment to the organization. Through the maintenance of communication, motivation, and trust, transformational leaders can promote change easily in an organization. Research demonstrates that transformational leadership can be crucial in improving and maintaining relationships between employees leading to increased productivity (Xu, 2017). This strategy is also used by leaders who focus on change because they have the ability to drive and motivate employees to achieve more.
The nursing field today is faced with numerous challenges such as healthcare worker shortage and effective leadership seems to be the only solution to most of these challenges. Most research has demonstrated that leadership is crucial in changing the organizational environment including stressful occupation challenges. Transformational leadership has been effective in improving quality aspects of healthcare such as nursing satisfaction, engagement of nurses, and reducing turnover rates. Transformational leadership gives employees support, allows them to air their views, and feel free to approach their leaders when they have problems. Research conducted in Taiwan found out that transformational leadership can be important in improving workplace support, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction (Lin et al., 2015). Additionally, transformational leadership can be important in improving nursing mental outcomes given the stressful healthcare environment for nurses today.
Just like any other leadership style, transformational leadership has advantages and disadvantages. Transformational leadership is becoming more popular because it treats people as individuals. The leaders regard their followers as equals with their own set of skills and experience that needs to be natured differently. It gives the leader the power to support the employee and fosters working towards a common cause. Secondly, transformational leadership can be cost-saving to the organization by reducing turnover rates and improved productivity (American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC), 2014). It allows employees and leaders to match cultures and behaviors that enable long term service delivery. It is also argued that transformational leadership creates and manages change. These leaders create clear goals and defined visions while supporting staff towards achieving the change. Transformational leadership can be disadvantageous because it requires an existing structure so that further development and growth can occur. The leadership style can also provide ground for potential abuse through the creation of unrealistic goals and visions to suit the leader’s interest.
Comparison of Strengths
Transformational leaders seek to create positive change in organizations through inspiration and creating a culture of trust. I believe my strengths make me a good transformational leader ready to spearhead change in the nursing field. My first described strength is focus which involves keeping an eye on the set goals. I have the ability to stick to the set goals and I sometimes work overtime to achieve the goals. Just like transformational leaders, I work with my focus being on the vision and mission of the organization. My second strength is that of an achiever where I work hard to achieve daily tasks. Transformational leaders motivate employees to work and achieve their set targets every day. Their form of inspiration is based on what motivates the individual rather than formal acknowledgment of a job well done.
As a leader, I have the strength of significance, a characteristic that makes it possible to make a difference. This trait is consistent with transformational leadership where there is the ability to make difficult decisions to achieve change. Transformational leaders are observed to guide others towards realizing new ideas (AANAC, 2014). They have the ability to take the right risks and make difficult decisions with a clear focus on the values, beliefs, and norms of the organization. Transformational leaders can be described as learners because they aspire to perform beyond their expectations. They encourage creativity and allow employees to explore new ways of doing things. This aspect informs my strength as a learner because I push myself hard to learn new ways of satisfying my patients. Lastly, I am a futuristic individual who is inspired by the future. Transformational leaders lead with vision and communicate the vision to employees.
How Leadership Style Might Evolve
Advanced practice nurses have an expert level of knowledge and complex decision-making skills that can be used to drive change in organizations. I believe my leadership style will evolve as I advance my nursing career to include more skills. For instance, I will have to learn to adapt to new changes in today’s changing healthcare environment. Secondly, transformational leaders take great risks to realize change, and I believe I will learn to be a risk-taker especially in changing processes within healthcare environments. As I advance in my career, I will learn strategies and ways to make the right risks and difficult decisions while focusing on organizational vision.
Nursing leadership also uses other different styles apart from transformational leadership. Among the common styles is democratic leadership which welcomes and encourages communication from employees when making decisions (AANAC, 2014). This strategy values relationships with employees and always provides feedback to improve communication. Transformational leadership also values the relationship with employees but does not provide the power to share decisions. The leader stands strong to guide employees in realizing organizational change. Another style is laissez-faire leadership where the manager allows the employees to function as they prefer (AANAC, 2014). This style cannot be compared to transformational leadership in terms of productivity because it does not drive organizational change. Some managers might prefer using autocratic leadership where decisions are made without the input of employees. Although the strategy is good for making quick decisions, it cannot bring about sustainable change because it does not take into account the preferences of employees.
Today, nursing management is viewed as a profession that requires special training for effective leadership. The most effective styles used in nursing understand that leadership is a two-way process that requires the input of leaders and employees. Transformational leadership is observed to motivate employees to perform beyond expectations instead of just doing their jobs. While transformational leadership can promote organizational change, the nurse leader must possess strengths such as adaptability, inspiration, and motivation and strive to focus, achieve, learn, and be futuristic. Realizing that the success of organizations depends on the strength of the nursing leader, advanced practice nurses should understand the different types of styles in nursing management.
American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination. (2014). Nursing leadership and management styles.
Fischer, S. A. (2017). Developing nurses’ transformational leadership skills. Nursing Standard, 31(51). DOI: 10.7748/ns.2017.e10857
Khan, B. P., Griffin, M. T. Q., & Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2018). Staff nurses’ perceptions of their nurse managers’ transformational leadership behaviors and their own structural empowerment. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, 48(12), 609-614. DOI: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000690
Lin, P. Y., MacLennan, S., Hunt, N., & Cox, T. (2015). The influences of nursing transformational leadership style on the quality of nurses’ working lives in Taiwan: A cross-sectional quantitative study. BMC Nursing, 14, 33. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-015-0082-x
Xu, J. H. (2017). Leadership theory in clinical practice. Chinese Nursing Research, 4(4), 155-157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cnre.2017.10.001
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