Leadership Styles in Nursing and the Impacts on Patient Outcomes

A nurse manager needs to work as a leader who guides every single person that contributes to the welfare of the patients in a particular nursing unit. Being a manager it is his/her responsibility to regulate each and everything that can directly or indirectly affect the quality of services and care provided to the patients in any organization. The poor performance of the one who synchronizes and balances all the nurses, patients, and their families, and other health care professionals can lead to substandard patient outcomes. Actually, it puts adverse effects on the morale and productivity of the staff members which results into poor performance of the whole clinical setting. If you are a nurse manager and are confused about what style you should adopt in order to gain success both as a leader and a nurse, go through this article. We are here with different types of leadership styles in nursing. Choose the one that combines well with your personality traits, working environment, type of organization you work for, etc.

Here are some nursing leadership styles which you can merge with your abilities, desire, and enthusiasm to work as a leader –

1. Democratic

Democratic style of leadership in nursing enhances the participation of junior employees in the decision making the procedure of an organization. Although, the final decision is of the leader, s/he collects information, feedback, and ideas from all the staff members before finalizing everything. Democratic leadership style in nursing is quite effective as all the employees feel valued, and due to this, they attempt to give their best. Input of an organization’s employees is of foremost importance when it comes to the growth of the firm. This is one of the best for clinical settings as skills and abilities of all the professionals contribute equally to the success of the organization. Though, this management style in nursing too has some disadvantages as getting everyone’s feedback is really time-consuming process. Also, the confident group of members always come ahead and give suggestions whereas apprehensive employees may never get opportunities to provide their feedback.

2. Affiliative

Affiliative Leadership is not a cup of tea of every other individual. To make this style successful for an organization, the leader must be great at making relationships. This leadership works best when there is a need to fix the bitterness of feelings among a group or when there is workload or stress, as these leaders are the best to motivate other team members. Basically, affiliative leadership is extremely effective when there is a need to team harmony, augment morale or rebuild broken trust. Moreover, it also increases interaction and communication among members. Despite numerous positive aspects about this style of leadership in nursing, there are some disadvantages, first of all, this style can not be used as the only source, and second, it can lead to poor performance, and that too may go not corrected.

3. Transformational

Transformational leadership style in nursing is also based on the encouragement of the employees to give their best at work and motivation to be positive while performing various tasks instead of being negative. But, all this is done through a common mission and vision. Transformational style results into engaged and productive teams. To make this leadership work in a beneficial way for the organization, there is a requirement of an inspiring and smart nurse leader. This style may fall in a contemptible manner if the one who handles everything lacks in any of the essential traits required to make transformational leadership successful for any health care setting.

4. Authoritarian

Authoritarian or Autocratic leadership style in nursing is the one in which the nurse manager or leader decides everything, give orders and directives to all the team members. Employees just need to follow what they are asked. The manager supervises every staff member and their input is not considered while making decisions. Workers are not even allowed to ask if they have some doubts about the validity of a directive. This kind of leadership style is perfect for the places such as prisons, military, routinized operations, jails because in these kinds of places, lives of patients completely depend on the workers. Thus, it is must for such employees to work step by step as they are directed. Even punishment is given if someone does not enforce the rules properly. Mistakes are completely intolerable, and often individuals are blamed instead of the faulty procedures. The only advantage of this leadership is that it is the most effective in case of emergencies or perplexed situations when there is very less time for discussion. It is completely a bad idea to used this management style in nursing for routine operation as it fails to promote, communication, trust, and teamwork.

5. Coaching

In coaching leadership, leader concentrates on the development of people. They work to make the team members understand their strengths and weaknesses, set targets for development and help them achieve goals. This nurse manager leadership style is great to groom the employees both professionally and personally. If implemented properly it gives long term results. But along with so many pros, it also has some cons such as it can work only if workers are receptive, and it needs time to imply, especially in the start.

6. Transactional

Transactional Leadership style in nursing is the one in which leaders give rewards or punishments to the employees respective of the way in which they complete the tasks. It concentrates on the importance of supervision, leadership, organization and performance of the group. It completely relies on the transactions held between the workers and the nurse manager because it is based on the fact that employees are motivated both by discipline and rewards. Nurse managers who follow this kind of leadership style for nurses do not focus on the performance of the organization in the near future, rather they look for the best that can be done to keep everything perfect in the present. Moreover, these leaders pay special attention to the deviations and faults made by the staff members. Transactional leaders are required when some tasks need to be carried out in a specific manner.

7. Situational

Situational leadership is very flexible and transforms according to the existing working requirements and needs of the clinical setting. Management is not based upon the basic skills and abilities of the manager, rather s/he modifies them according to the requirement of the organization. This kind of nurse management style is easy to imply, the leader just needs to analyze the present situation of the organization and imply the best strategy to get the best outcome for the organization. Thus, this style works best only with the right leader. Nurse managers are free to take decisions and modify management styles as per the need. Situational leaders are often seen diverting from the long term goals and strategies of the organization. This is one of the major drawbacks of this style of the various types of leadership styles in nursing.

8. Laissez-faire

In Laissez-faire leadership in nursing, employees are encouraged to undertake a hands-off approach and are allowed to work in a way that they like to, without any kind of supervision or guidance of the nurse managers. Only minimum directions are provided by the leaders and it permits the workers to handle various tasks on their own. Employees are responsible for the decisions made by them, setting their goals and solving all the issues that arise while working. This kind of leadership style in nursing management is successful only in the cases where the staff members are highly skilled, educated, motivated and are ready to give their best for the best results. Using this with the workers who don’t know how to manage time, who are not skilled or unexperienced can result into negative outcome. Laissez-faire nurse managers are mostly new leaders or the ones who are at the end of their careers.

9. Visionary

Visionary leadership is much similar to transformational style. The only difference is that these leaders are much concerned about the future and they guide the followers to stay focused on what they need to achieve in the upcoming years. Nurse manager just motivates the employees to pursue and share a common target and vision by providing proper guidance about where to go and what to do with proper stepwise procedure of how to reach there.

A smart, visionary leader interchanges information freely to provide knowledge to the subordinates which they require to be successful. This health care leadership style works best when any clinical facility is new and needs directions to initiate in the field of health care.

10. Servant

To gain success of the organizations, nurse managers often opt this type of leadership style in health care. This leader looks after for those who serve the patients and work hard to gain positive outcomes, i.e., the staff members. They pay special attention to their needs and ask the employees if they want any kind of help. All this is dome for the professional and personal development of the workers. They facilitate engagement and offer a healthy working environment to the subordinate nursing professionals. A good servant leader is an active listener, aware, persuade others, build community, empathetic and is great at conceptualizing everything. It is a caring style of leadership and is often implied to build trust among the employees.