Leadership Styles in Nursing
Managers with leadership styles that seek and value contributions from staff, promote a climate in which information is shared effectively, promote decision making at the staff nurse level, exert position power, and influence coordination of work to provide a milieu that maintains a stable cadre of nurses.
This statement describes the large impact a leadership style can make on the work environment, and the morale of the team. In nursing history, several theories and leadership styles have been explored. This paper will discuss: the importance of leadership in nursing, the authoritarian and democratic leadership styles, how they can be implemented in practice, and how they can either help or hinder professional nursing practice. Review of Professional Nursing Literature
The importance of leadership in nursing is continuing to present itself time and again, especially as technology improves, and healthcare changes and evolves. What is unique about leadership in nursing is that nurses as leaders have the ability to impact and improve practice (Curtis, De Vries & Sheerin, 2011). In addition to leadership being an important component to the nurse’s role, leadership style also has been found to have a significant impact on nurse’s objective to remain on particular unit (Boyle, Bott, Hansen, Woods & Taunton, 2009).
The paper next describes two leadership styles that may be implemented in practice. The authoritarian leadership style has been compared with a dictatorship, meaning that one person has the authority over the employees. This type of leader is often the one in charge of making the plans for the whole group or unit, and the employees or subordinates are expected to carry out the plan according to that leader. Authoritarian leadership style promotes a one-sided conversation which can restrict the creative and leadership skills of the employees (Boyle, Bott, Hansen, Woods & Taunton, 2009).
Often times an authoritarian leader has full control of those around them, and believes to have complete authority to treat them as they want. An authoritarian leader would provide instructions without looking for inputs and superintend his or her nurses in a close manner. However, problems may arise if a nurse must wait for the manager’s decision or direction before taking action regarding a patient. Although the authoritarian leadership style can be viewed as undesirable, it has proved to be very efficient in emergent and stressful situations.
One of the key benefits of authoritarian leadership is the fact that decision making becomes much more simple and fast, as the leader doesn’t have to consult or convince anybody. Basically authoritarian leadership can work wonders for the organization when decision making has to be quick and during some crisis. In a democratic leadership style, the decision making process and overall responsibility among team members is shared. Decisions are made by the leader consulting each member of the team; therefore the outcome becomes a group effort.
In the democratic leadership style, tasks are delegated to employees effectively, where the implementation is mostly in their hands. As opposed to the authoritarian leadership style, the democratic leader welcomes feedback from every team member. Team members are also encouraged to function as a leader in terms of decision-making and execution of decisions (VESTERINEN, ISOLA & PAASIVAARA, 2009). The democratic leadership style enforces a work environment where everyone is allowed to contribute to the decision-making process.
This not only gives a certain amount of importance and authority to the team members, but also makes them more responsible as the burden of executing the choices they have made rests on their own shoulder. Involving more members in the decision-making process enables the team to reach to best solution possible. The variety of viewpoints allows the team to deal with every challenge after analyzing each perspective, and provide solutions in the same manner. By allowing everyone to be a part of the process, this leadership style permits creativity.
Since everyone is given equal opportunity, a conflict of interest is less likely when this leadership style is implemented. While this type of leadership style values the input of the entire staff, there may not always be time to form a majority opinion when a patient’s health, or life, depends on fast action. Application of Clinical Example It is appropriate to use the authoritarian leadership style only when decisions have to be made quickly, when there’s no need for input, when team agreement isn’t necessary for a successful outcome, or when the job to be done is routine and unskilled.
This leadership style could be implemented into practice in situations such as a code, when a patient is crashing, or if a disaster had taken place. This type of leadership style would often be appropriate in an urgent care unit, but could likely be used in many areas of nursing where emergencies arise. A specific example of this could be: a middle-aged male enters the emergency room with moderate chest pain. As you begin performing your assessment on him, he suddenly grabs his chest and begins gasping for air. As you have him connected to the vitals monitor you observe that his blood pressure and oxygen saturation begin dropping.
At this point the authoritarian leader would take charge and call for immediate assistance. The authoritarian leader would begin delegating tasks to the other nurses and assistive personnel such as: placing oxygen on the patient, and assessing for breath sounds and pulse, and level of consciousness. The staff would continue to carry out the plan of action according to the leader. This situation describes an appropriate scenario of when the authoritarian approach is necessary and beneficial. In an acute situation as this, there is no time to debate the decision-making process.
There needs to be one leader who decides the plan of action, and the others need to follow. The authoritarian style versus the democratic style would likely same many lives in these types of scenarios. As the advantages of the authoritarian leadership style have been described is it clear how that style of leadership can benefit nursing practice. However, this type of leadership can also diminish nursing practice. Authoritarian leadership can be detrimental because it often does not allow for open communication and socialization.
Employees working under an authoritarian leader may not feel heard, or that their input matters. This can lead to employee dissatisfaction and increased employee turnover (Curtis, De Vries & Sheerin, 2011). Particular traits and characteristics that have been shown to enhance leadership rather than diminish it include: sincerity, self-confidence and motivation to manage (Curtis, De Vries & Sheerin, 2011). In all professions especially nursing, it is important to create a work environment where employees feel valued and supported. Conclusion
Leadership is vital in almost every aspect of life. From the field of education, to a corporate environment, to that of a hospital, and even in a household, the kind of leadership style that is prevalent defines the course of action for the members of the organization (Curtis, De Vries & Sheerin, 2011). In the nursing profession several styles of leadership can be used, all having their own advantages and disadvantages. As discussed, in a time of crisis when quick decisions must be made, an authoritarian approach may be most useful.
While when deciding the best strategies decrease the occurrence of nosocomial infections, a democratic leadership style may prove to have the most success. The key to enhancing the nursing profession may then therefore be not just finding right leadership style to use, but the appropriate time to use each style.