Trait Theories Behavioral Theories

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Trait Theories Behavioral Theories

Trait Theories Behavioral Theories
Trait Theories Behavioral Theories

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Task Versus Relationship Motivation Theories Emotional Intelligence Situational Theories Transformational Leadership Moral Leadership Caring Leadership

Qualities of an Effective Leader Behaviors of an Effective Leader Followership Followership Defined Becoming a Better Follower Managing Up Conclusion

Nurses study leadership to learn how to work well with other people. We work with an extraordinary variety of people: technicians, aides, unit managers, housekeepers, patients, patients’ families, physi- cians, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, social workers, psychologists, and more. In this chapter, the most prominent leadership theories are introduced. Then, the characteristics and behaviors that can make you, a new nurse, an effective leader and follower are discussed.


Are You Ready to Be a Leader? You may be thinking, “I’m just beginning my career in nursing. How can I be expected to be a leader now?” This is an important question. You will need time to refine your clinical skills and learn how to function in a new environment. But you can begin to assume some leadership functions right away within your new nursing roles. In fact, leadership should be seen as a dimension of nursing practice (Scott & Miles, 2013). Consider the following example:

Billie Thomas was a new staff nurse at Green Valley Nursing Care Center. After orientation, she was assigned to a rehabilitation unit with high ad- mission and discharge rates. Billie noticed that admissions and discharges were assigned rather hap- hazardly. Anyone who was “free” at the moment was directed to handle them. Sometimes, unlicensed as- sistant personnel were directed to admit or discharge residents. Billie believed that this was inappropriate because they are not prepared to do assessments and they had no preparation for discharge planning.

Billie had an idea how discharge planning could be improved but was not sure that she should bring it up because she was so new. “Maybe they’ve already thought of this,” she said to a former classmate. They began to talk about what they had learned in their leadership course before graduation. “I just keep hearing our instructor saying, ‘There’s only one manager, but anyone can be a leader.’ ”

“If you want to be a leader, you have to act on your idea. Why don’t you talk with your nurse manager?” her friend asked.

“Maybe I will,” Billie replied. Billie decided to speak with her nurse manager,

an experienced rehabilitation nurse who seemed not

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only approachable but also open to new ideas. “I have been so busy getting our new electronic health record system on line before the surveyors come that I wasn’t paying attention to that,” the nurse manager told her. “I’m glad you brought it to my attention.”

Billie’s nurse manager raised the issue at the next executive meeting, giving credit to Billie for having brought it to her attention. The other nurse manag- ers had the same response. “We were so focused on the new electronic health record system that we overlooked that. We need to take care of this situa- tion as soon as possible. Billie Thomas has leadership potential.”

Leadership Defined Successful nurse leaders are those who engage others to work together effectively in pursuit of a shared goal. Examples of shared goals in nursing would be providing excellent care, reducing infec- tion rates, designing cost-saving procedures, or challenging the ethics of a new policy.

Leadership is a much broader concept than is management. Although managers need to be leaders, management itself is focused specifically on achievement of organizational goals. Leadership, on the other hand:

. . . occurs whenever one person attempts to influence the behavior of an individual or group—up, down, or sideways in the organization—regardless of the reason. It may be for personal goals or for the goals of others, and these goals may or may not be congru- ent with organizational goals. Leadership is influ- ence (Hersey & Campbell, 2004, p. 12).

In order to lead, one must develop three important competencies: (1) diagnose: ability to understand the situation you want to influence, (2) adapt: make changes that will close the gap between the current situation and what you are hoping to achieve, and (3) communicate. No matter how much you diag- nose or adapt, if you cannot communicate effec- tively, you will probably not meet your goal (Hersey & Campbell, 2004).