Scholars have paid attention to the critical need for leadership in nursing. The concept of leadership and mentoring therefore is an important aspect that nurses should understand. The framework designed by Walker and Avant has guided the steps followed in this concept analysis. This paper highlights the concept of leadership in nursing and its relevance to practicing nurses and scholars in the field of nursing. Leadership in any field refers to the practice of offering direction through actions and guidance to individuals with similar goals. Therefore, leadership in nursing is the practice of offering direction through actions and guidance to health care professionals. In this case, leadership may have the aspect of mentoring other young professionals to take up leadership positions or guiding a group of professionals towards achieving an institutional or professional objective.
Aims or Purpose
The importance of analyzing the concept of leadership in nursing lies in the need to inform nurses how they can lead in their profession. A significant realization in the leadership topic is that no individual can attain significant outcomes alone. Behind a successful nurse is a team of other nurses and health care professionals who pave a way and support their leader in making their success story. In nursing, other nurses perceive a leader who makes all decisions singlehandedly as a dictator and this does not add value to the profession. A leader should be approachable in terms of sharing new ideas and accommodative of the opinions presented by other individuals (Curtis, Vries, & Sheerin, 2011). Some individuals view the role of leadership as one that should be performed only by the person who holds the title or who is selected to lead others. Nursing leadership pioneer, Florence Nightingale did not receive an appointment from any individual. She took up the role and led other women in performing the same by working together. Success in nursing leadership only exists for the individuals who accept to work in a team atmosphere. Therefore, nurses should understand that they are leaders in different perspectives who should champion for better health care to the public.
Several scholars have researched on the concept of leadership in nursing. One of the themes that may confuse individuals in this concept is the difference between leadership and management. In nursing, leadership and management are different fields and functions. In fact, most nurses only deal with their leaders and never get to meet the managers (Curtis, Vries, & Sheerin, 2011). The aspect of leadership differs from that of management because leaders develop new ideas and strategies while managers only control and maintain the existing strategies. In this perspective, leaders are agents of change and drive individuals towards achieving the objectives while managers accept the status quo.
Several factors contribute to nursing leadership. These factors include modeling, educational activities, and practicing leadership. Age and experience are aspects that make one a better leader after acquiring the required education standards and undergoing modeling (Curtis, Vries, & Sheerin, 2011). Practicing leadership refers to the opportunity to observe and practice leadership skills enable nurses to develop greater self-efficacy, which is necessary for leadership. Additionally, training programs in general leadership enables a qualified nurse to understand the concepts of leadership in nursing.
The Leadership Training
During the training programs, nurses are equipped on relationship skills. Relationship skills enable a nurse to have effective communication and to be approachable by other nurses in their workplace. Aspiring leaders in nursing must understand that a gap exists between training and practice. The training entails model situations, which are temporary. In practice, the nurses are faced by difficult situation where they must offer guidance as required (Curtis, Vries, & Sheerin, 2011). Training programs for nurses enable them to develop emotional intelligence, which gives them ability to manage and integrate emotions with reasoning. Therefore, the training is suitable for all nursing professionals who understand that they have a role to place in pacesetting and making decisions. The training enables a nurse to understand the relationship between workplace and personal factors.
Leadership training for nursing undergraduates
Having noted the significance of leadership skills in the profession scholars perceive that aspiring professionals should receive the training while undergoing their undergraduate programs in nursing and healthcare. The top schools in undergraduate nursing programs have designed a module, which encompasses the aspect of leadership in nursing. Undergraduate scholars receive the training and undergo practical checks to see if they comprehend the application of leadership in the nursing profession. For example, Trinity College in Dublin has a curriculum, which implements the leadership training in the fourth year of study (Curtis, Vries, & Sheerin, 2011). The curriculum setup ensures that the undergraduate students learn different aspects of health care in their freshman and second year and undergo the leadership training after. The nursing leadership training offered in top universities covers different areas, which include communication, critical thinking, and nursing technology. Other important branches of study include human diversity, ethics, provider, and manager of care and membership in the profession. Trainers believe that the leadership program is the best transition for students into nursing practice.
Personal development of nursing leadership
Leadership has two aspects; one can be trained using such training programs while others require personal development. A nurse may undergo the leadership-training program but fail to deliver new strategies and appear to perform management roles rather than leadership. After undergoing the training program, a nurse must learn how to handle his or her insecurity, ego, and temperament (AANAC, 2014). A common objective among all nurses is to offer quality health care and work towards the improvement of health among communities. Considering that the profession has a common goal nurses should understand that they require team effort to achieve their common objective.
Insecurity refers to situations when a leader feels threatened by other individuals in the profession. In this case, the leader is less likely to rely on the team’s strength to achieve a common aim. Insecurity arises when the leader and other teammates fail to develop a team atmosphere (AANAC, 2014). Nurses should not fear to be overshadowed by other individuals in the same profession. Every health care provider must understand that all individuals are teammates and aim for similar targets. To deal with insecurity, a leader should understand the benefit of pooling ideas together.
Ego refers to a situation when a leader cannot admit to their juniors or teammates that there are things they do not understand. Such a leader tries to perform all actions although they may not do them correctly (AANAC, 2014). To deal with ego, the leader should delegate the tasks and duties to other team players. The leader should only identify individuals who are well skilled at performing certain objectives and assign them these tasks. In nursing, the leader should not be the person who performs all roles.
Temperament refers to the situation where an individual faces challenges but does not consider seeking help. Leaders should understand that by trying to perform all objectives alone, they only limit the group’s potential (AANAC, 2014). Nurses form a team and every individual has a role. The combination of the roles performed by different individuals creates the bigger picture, which is providing better health care services.
Team member’s role in leadership
Understanding the vision and adjusting the attitude are major roles played by the team members. The leader should demonstrate and present a vision to the team players. Each individual should aspire to work towards a single group vision. The vision represents a meaningful target that must be the central focus to all individuals in the team. Therefore, a nurse leader is faced with the responsibility of modeling the big picture and ensuring that the right people perform the nursing roles (AANAC, 2014). The team members must embrace the picture portrayed and presented by the nurse leader. In terms of attitude, the team players must ensure that they develop a positive attitude towards the big picture. A nurse leader should understand that their role is to work as a model and show willingness towards achieving the big picture.
Uses of the Concept
Throughout the literature, the term leadership has been used to define an activity where one individual takes control of a group of individuals; they all work together towards accomplishing a bigger picture.
- The concept of leadership is used to define an important role that every nurse should take up during practice in order to offer encouragement, guidance, and support and career advice to other individuals within the profession (Sellgren, Ekvall, & Tomson, 2007). Leadership affects professional and personal skills and creates contextual feedback towards the achievement of better health care.
- The concept is also used to define the traits that nursing professionals should develop in order to facilitate goal achievement and improvement of quality in health care (Sellgren, Ekvall, & Tomson, 2007).
Based on the literature used in analyzing the concept there are three defining attributes, which are used to describe leadership.
- The importance of creating team atmosphere in leadership
- The significance of team players in achieving leadership
- The importance on developing leadership skills through training
- MacPhee, a nurse leader is faced with the challenge of running the nursing services at a local institution. He does not deal well with elderly people and therefore may not be able to deliver quality services to the elderly. However, the institution has other nurses who can work effectively with the elderly patients. Therefore, MacPhee as the leader designates the role of elderly care to other nurses. The other nurses accept to work with the elderly patients. They design a schedule where each nurse receives a time slot for performing the necessary duties.
This model case illustrates the role of a nurse leader in division of labor. It also highlights the role of other nurses in teamwork and delivery of health care services. The team of nurses demonstrates the will to support their leader and maintain a positive attitude towards all tasks delegated to them
- Lucy, a clinical resource nurse wants to advance her studies and apply for a master’s degree. She feels comfortable asking for guidance from Felix the current nursing team leader in her institution. Felix has an extensive experience in nursing and health care administration and has been the leader for three years consecutively. Felix Advises Lucy correctly on the best institution to enroll with and pursue a master’s degree in nursing.
This model case illustrates the role of a leader in guiding other team players. Felix, the nurse leader does not feel insecure about his leadership role once Lucy achieves the master’s degree. He plays his role in guiding her towards advancing her career.
Jane is a new nurse, she feels overpowered and scared by the new responsibilities and role. She approaches John, the nurse leader in her institution and asks for help. Johns response is “ Do not worry that for feeling that way, the feeling will pass” and walks away.
This case simply does not present any leadership. The actions of the nurse leader are in contrast to the role of the leader in nursing. Alternatively, John could encourage Jane and offer support until she fully adapts.
Antecedents & Consequences to leadership
An important antecedent of leadership is that a leader and team members are required. The act of leadership begins with leaders and team players establishing a vision and delegating the duties of achieving the vision. Often the leader drives the relationship (Sellgren, Ekvall, & Tomson, 2007). The team players and the leader hold common interests and must have a common vision. Leadership is the responsibility of the health institutions to encourage the creation of leadership roles and creation of teams in nursing.
A consequence of leadership occurs when the nurse leader perceives that their role is to control the team members (Sellgren, Ekvall, & Tomson, 2007). In this scenario, the team does not meet its objectives because the team players rarely participate in sharing their views.
There are tools that measure the impact of leadership on any career. The best among the tools is a leadership impact questionnaire, which should be answered by the nurses who have undergone the leadership training in the undergraduate programs. Nurse leaders may also participate in the questionnaire.
The importance of leadership in nursing and overall health care is unquestionable. Leadership does not only apply in management. Leadership should pervade the professional nursing practice. It is imperative for nurses to undergo training in leadership at the undergraduate level to prepare them for service delivery. Nursing educators have a role to play in ensuring that aspiring professionals receive leadership training. Nurse leaders are part of the team, which should accomplish health care visions. Therefore, teamwork and delegation of roles are the key aspects in nursing leadership.
Curtis, E. A., Vries, J. d., & Sheerin, F. K. (2011). Developing leadership in nursing: exploring core factors. British Journal of Nursing,, 20(5), 306-316.
AANAC, A. (2014). NURSING LEADERSHIP. AANAC, 20(1), 1-10.
Sellgren, S., Ekvall, G., & Tomson, G. (2007). Nursing staff turnover: does leadership matter?. Leadership in Health Services, 20(3), 169-183.