Nursing leadership styles explored

Effective leadership is one of the most crucial elements in delivering high-quality healthcare, as it helps to ensure safety, efficiency and consistency. With excellent leaders in place, healthcare providers can organize themselves to optimize efficiency and coordinate care in response to changing demands. Learning about the various kinds of leadership styles can help you find one you identify with and develop your own leadership skills and confidence. Below, we explore several styles of leadership in nursing, discuss their unique characteristics and advantages and offer some tips on how to be an effective leader as a nurse. 

Nursing leadership styles

Nurses in all roles act as leaders to a degree, so it’s important to understand different leadership styles and cultivate your own leadership abilities if you work in this field. If you aspire to be a director, manager, chief officer, educator, consultant, case manager or any other traditional type of leader, developing leadership skills is essential. Here’s a closer look at the main styles of leadership that apply to the medical industry and beyond:

Laissez-faire leadership

This style of leadership favors a hands-off approach and is more facilitative than other leadership styles. It’s a good method to use when trying to develop or identify leadership qualities in subordinates, as it gives professionals the freedom and authority to make decisions. Laissez-faire translates to “allow to do”, and it’s an approach that involves delegation of responsibility instead of top-down instructions. It’s not appropriate for all situations, particularly those that require the expertise of a highly experienced leader. It’s also known to lead to relatively low productivity among staff.

Laissez-faire leadership can be beneficial when creativity and innovation are required, as it gives people the freedom to try new things and make mistakes. Leaders can still intervene, if necessary, but they try to leave teams to their own devices to allow leadership qualities to emerge among them. When individuals are highly qualified, ambitious, resourceful and trustworthy, laissez-faire can produce outstanding results, which can have serious benefits in a medical context. However, with inexperienced team members, this form of leadership can result in disorder and reduced productivity, which is counterproductive when trying to promote good health in patients. 

Autocratic leadership

This leadership style is essentially the opposite of laissez-faire leadership, as its defining features are top-down direction and centralized control. It doesn’t allow for innovation or trial and error. Instead, instructions come from a boss or leader and don’t factor in much of the group’s input. While this style can be perceived as dictatorial, it’s sometimes necessary to have strict control over operations for the sake of quality or safety. In healthcare, autocratic leadership is often used during emergencies, as these situations demand fast action and clear, intelligent instructions. In day-to-day healthcare environments, it may not be as prevalent.

Some of the primary benefits of leading autocratically are increased speed, reduced stress, lower margin for error, a clear chain of command and a rigid structure. To use this leadership style successfully, it’s important to make subordinates feel heard, as this helps to keep morale high. It’s also crucial to provide the necessary tools and resources for professionals to follow the directions you lay out, providing additional support where necessary to ensure they can execute tasks. Also, be sure to recognize the achievements of individuals, as this can encourage them to continue performing well and accept your criticisms.

Democratic leadership

Democratic leadership, or participatory leadership, is a style that favors collaboration and encourages team members to provide their input. Discussions happen prior to important decisions being made, so that professionals can exchange ideas and participate in the decision-making process. In their day-to-day work, nurses that have completed an MSN-AGNP online program often collaborate under democratic leadership styles to figure out ways of improving the functionality and quality of life for adults. These courses include clinical residencies in cutting-edge simulation centers, and they’re also designed to support working nurses. 

Nurses may also collaborate democratically with leaders to find ways of improving systems and processes, as it’s often necessary to factor in as many perspectives as possible to achieve this. Democratic leadership can be an effective tool for fostering positive relationships between leaders and new team members, as it establishes relationships on the basis of trust and mutual respect. When team members are new and lack experience, democratic leadership is typically unsuitable, as it can lead to poor decision-making. It’s best reserved for situations that demand creativity, collaboration and high morale.

Tips on how nurses can lead effectively

Here are some tips you can implement to improve your leadership abilities as a nurse:

Cultivate strong relationships

Taking the time to get to know your team personally can help you lead more effectively, as it helps you understand the nuances of personalities, what motivates people and what they like and dislike. You can use these insights to lead strategically and get the most out of your team. With strong personal relationships, subordinates are more likely to look up to you, be honest and respect your judgment.

Reward productivity 

While correcting poor behavior is important, incentivizing good behavior is equally important. Recognizing team members’ positive contributions encourages them to continue performing well and spreads the same positive attitudes throughout the workplace. Without proper incentives in place, you’re less likely to bring out the best in people and instill a strong desire to perform.

Be organized 

Organizing yourself so that you’re never caught off guard as a leader is crucial, as leaders are required to maintain order and productivity. This means analyzing future events in terms of what could go wrong and making contingency plans. It also means organizing yourself in terms of the resources you need each day and ensuring you meet all your obligations.

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.