Applying Transformational Leadership in Nursing Practice

Categories: Nursing


Nurses face day-to-day challenges as they provide care for their patients. In the past, nurses have been managed inappropriately with their values and needs being unmotivated due to the then leadership styles. Nursing leadership styles have however experienced a significant change over time. This change has improved the welfare of nurses and improved healthcare outcomes (Cummings et al. 2010, p. 364). This essay describes the benefits of an efficient leadership approach that promotes professionalism and creates healthy work environment. It highlights on how leadership styles impact key nursing roles and finally addresses the opportunities of new graduate nurses in leadership.

Section 1

Leadership is a complex process advancing over time. It is defined as a process where a leader plays the role of inspiring a group of individuals to realize the goals a leader desires for the organization (Cummings et al. 2010, p. 364). Many leadership styles have been described in various nursing literature. Each of them has advantages and shortfalls on the followers and also leaders.

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It thus establishes the relationship between a style and the impact on the nurse’s working environment and healthcare outcome (Cope & Murray 2017, p. 61). Certain leadership approaches are preferred over others depending on the desired outcome in the healthcare industry. In its optimal form, an effective leadership style results in a motivated group of workers hence achieving the outcome (Cummings et al. 2010, p. 364).

The common leadership styles include autocratic where the leader makes all decisions without considering any input from the team (Abdulhafith 2017, p. 4517). Democratic leadership allows for open communication with the followers being involved in decision-making.

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Laissez-faire leadership is where followers make their own decisions but are blamed in case they mess (Abdulhafith 2017, p. 4517). Transactional leadership utilizes rewards and punishments to ensure compliance (Cope & Murray 2017, p. 61). Transformational leadership allows for the motivation of team members to achieve desired results ((Doody & Doody 2012, p. 1217).

Section 2

Transformational leadership

The transformational leadership approach is defined as a type of leadership where leaders devote themselves by identifying change and being visionary to guide the change by inspiring and executing it with the help of their followers (Skinner 2018, p. 64). The concept was first described in the late 70s and has been since the most effective style replacing other traditional management and leadership styles (Hutchinson & Jackson 2013, p. 12). Since the 21st century, most organizations shifted to this approach not only in the healthcare sector. The essence is to initiate change and maintain a positive working environment (Cope & Murray 2017, p. 61).

Attributes of transformational leadership

In transformational leadership theory, there are four specific attributes inspire and motivate followers to maximize their productivity in the organization ((Doody & Doody 2012, p. 1217). The first of these four factors is idealized influence. A nurse manager who should be an effective mentor and a role model who influences others through challenging ways to be competent care providers. Charisma keeps the leader outstanding which promotes gaining respect from the followers (Hutchison & Jackson 2013, p. 12). This improves the chances of retaining nursing staff (Cummings et al. 2010, p. 379).for example, a nurse manager who shows she cares and engages the staff on decision making on problems facing them is likely to gain trust.

The second factor is leaders who intellectually stimulate their followers and encourage them to question role and to critically examine their own assumptions and beliefs and those of their leaders which promotes creativity (Echevarria, Patterson & Krouse 2017, p. 168). For example, managers may provide time for nurses to work with other healthcare staff in order to ensure evidence-based practice is integrated in patient’s care.

The third factor is leaders who show individual consideration in personalized attention to every employee’s needs so that each employee feels valued. This is where nurse managers coach and mentor their) staff on the basis of their individual needs (Echevarria, Patterson & Krouse 2017, p. 168). For example, a leader who aspires to know their staff and purposes to understand their aspirations and goals for the organization. This gives them a chance to mentor their staff thus promoting a positive work environment (Cummings et al. 2010, p. 379).

The fourth factor is leaders who give inspirational motivation and a vision and the confidence that the vision is attainable by the followers (Echevarria, Patterson & Krouse 2017, p. 168). Example is a transformational leader who has the ability to creatively and innovatively inspire their staff. Setting up meetings with staff nurses is one way of reaching them to setting out goals and visions of the organization hence motivation to keep going (Hutchison & Jackson 2013, p. 12).

Section 3

Transformational leadership has impact on the key nursing roles and application of this leads to “transforming care” whose outcome is improved quality of care and increased patient satisfaction. A good model which can be integrated in transformational leadership is the patient centered care model which requires collaboration between care providers to improve the satisfaction of patients.

Nurse communication and documentation

This is a key element of nursing practice. Promoting an effective communicating system provides an opportunity to share valuable knowledge and information. There should effective communication between members of the nurse managers and the staff (Clavelle 2012, p. 345). This communication could be lateral communication which helps to improve the organizational change that is needed. Creating an environment where departments can share knowledge leads to decreased cases of medical errors and improved nurse identity ( Vaismoradi, Salsali & Marck 2011, p.436 ).For example, some of the patients’ deaths could result from some faults in communication. By the virtue that a manager is a transformational leader, they would want to promote the safety of the patient. They would therefore take up the role of ensuring proper communication channels. Communication between nurses and nurse managers is important for charismatic leaders who followers trust (Clavelle 2012, p., 435).

Professional relationships

Transformational leaders build professional relationships not only with their nursing staff but also with other medical staff. Maintaining and nurturing relationships with their followers is essential in inspiring others to be able to identify with their long-term vision in relation to the organizational goals and individual nurse goals(Cummings et al. 2010, p. 375). While leaders execute the practice of transformational leadership, they are required to build a collaborative relationship whose intention is to achieve the organizational desired change. A study conducted in Canada reveals some of the reasons why nurses wanted to leave. One of them was due to poor relationships with other staff and a poor leadership style (Abdulhafith 2017, p. 4522). This has influenced their working environment negatively and also reduced their job performance. In the case of transformational leadership, there is more job satisfaction and a positive working environment. Also improves the relationship between nurse leaders and the nurses(Cummings et al 2010 p., 375)


Transformational nurse managers encourage the staff to be team players. According to Williams, Parker & Turner (2010, p. 301) a team that works together achieves greater job satisfaction, better patient outcomes, and a less nurse turnover(Cummings et al. 2010, p.379). Collaboration and effective communication are the basis of a reliable team who shares a visionary goal in the course of providing care. Teamwork is enhanced by transformational leadership as staff members and nurse managers sit together to talk about the challenges they face(Williams, Parker, & Turner (2010, p 301). They all are involved in contributing ideas of how to counter the problem. This improves nurse ownership and the belongingness in the team hence easily achieving their goal.

Scope of practice

The scope and standards of practice dictates how nursing care and duties should be performed. This ensures competency and improves patient care. Apart from providing patient care, nurses have a role of medication administration( Vaismoradi, Salsali & Marck, 2011, p.436). As the leaders aspire to promote patient safety, they should always collaborate with the nursing team to ensure medication safety(ACSQHC,2013). Advocating for medication safety through transformational leadership is a need that most nurse managers require their nurses to have the correct skills needed in safe medication administration. This reduces medical errors and improves patients’ safety (Abdulhafith 2017, p. 4517). In addition, transformational leadership is a model of strong leadership in to nurse education to ensure effective student learning. Its principles can be applied in nursing education to not only to prepare effective health care leaders, but also to ensure that medication safety is taught so effectively that medication management improves which this does not threaten the quality of healthcare provided (Botting, L 2011, p. 14 ).

Delegation of care

As a leader, a delegation of duties is highly beneficial in achieving the desired goal. For instance, a nurse leader who effectively delegates duties to other staff nurses believes in them. The nurses will have the insight to ensure patients are cared for and are safe. Delegation is in itself a form of motivation to the nursing staff members who know their leader trusts their abilities (Nerdinger & Pundt 2008, p. 574) . They are likely to take on greater responsibilities and maybe even feel more willing to try new things. Team members can be strengthened, their confidence levels can increase and many of them will begin to grow into new leaders themselves. The patient and staff satisfaction scores are improved due to duty delegation. Therefore transformational leadership provides a chance to delegate effectively thus strengthening team members and improves patient care(Nerdinger & Pundt 2008, p. 574). In the case of nursing homes that provide aged care, effective delegation and relevant leadership ensures maximum care providence (Yoon & Shin 2016)

Conflict management and resolution

Leadership style has a role to play in terms of how conflicts are resolved. It is essential for a nurse leader to develop the effective ways necessary for resolving conflicts among the staff. This is through risk-taking and the ability to understand feelings( Enzman 2017, p 405) . Mediation can be complex and in an organization, it is the role of the leader to solve issues. In healthcare, conflict may arise between staff nurses or nurses with other medical personnel. As a manager, one should have the characteristics of a leader who listens and judges well. For the set goals and visions to be achieved, proper skills for resolving conflicts should be employed.

Impact of practice on quality healthcare

The practices of transformational leadership have shown to positively impact and improve the quality of care patients receive. Quality healthcare is one which patients are satisfied with the care they are receiving and staff is provided with a healthy work environment(Cummings et al. 2010, p. 379). This, therefore, shows that job satisfaction, improved patient safety, and care, and staff empowerment all are determinants of quality healthcare. Transformational leadership has all the characteristics necessary to provide quality and transforming care. Nursing managers should therefore take the role of inspiring, motivating, and mentoring their staff. This benefits the community and the organization realizes its productivity through transformed healthcare (Botting, L 2011, p. 14 ).

Opportunities for graduate nurses to develop leadership skills

A study showed that nursing students are not developing the desired educational outcomes to become nursing leaders due to lack of suitable clinical placement sites where they are able to learn or practice important leadership skills (Lizy 2014, p. 737). This makes it hard for graduate nurses or staff nurses who have worked for fewer years to develop necessary nursing leadership skills and apply them to patient care. Some variables which undermine the gaining of leadership skills include education and position held during practice greatly influence one’s ability to be a transformational leader. Nursing schools should therefore develop a curriculum where students are trained on leadership skills as well as practice them in their clinical placement areas. (Lizy 2014, p. 742)


In conclusion, transformational leadership has shown to be the trending and most effective in the healthcare industry in terms of providing a positive working environment, empowering the staff, improving patient safety and improving the quality of healthcare patients receive. It should therefore be embraced alongside other beneficial styles to ensure nursing staff work effectively, are retained in the organization and motivated to provide excellent care. In addition, every nurse manager should have the right skills and attitude is able care for their staff holistically. Finally, nursing education should incorporate leadership training into their curriculum to train fully equipped nurses ready to transform care through leadership.


Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is part of nursing education program which allows nursing students to use their emotions in the work environment to overcome challenges. Developed through training its impact includes ability to relate to others empathically and building self confidence Nurses who developed emotional intelligence are able to achieve competence and the desired outcome (Price 2008, p.28). Such individuals sometimes act as leaders and sometimes as followers.

There are four components which make up the concept of emotional intelligence. These skills facilitate the provision of person-centered care. Social awareness is the most important skill. Self-awareness, self-management, and relationship management are other aspects used to know whether a care provider is emotionally intelligent (Price 2008, p.28). All of these factors are used in the understanding of emotional intelligence.

According to Kooker, Shoultz & Codier( 2007, p.31), the value of emotional intelligence in inpatient care is reiterated because patients and clients should always feel respected and be treated with dignity. I have learned that emotional intelligence is important in for nurse managers since they are able to motivate nurses through their leadership practice which impacts positively on my working experience and the care for patients (Schneider, Lyons& Khazon 2013, p. 909). The value the leader puts on us is one way of inspiring us and improving the patient outcome.

Emotional intelligence allows me to integrate the elements of nursing practice in the course of caring for my patients. This allows me to treat my patients with dignity and respect through the practice of autonomy and education of patients. Being able to master emotional intelligence is an advantage to me as well as the patients under my care. Navigating through daily challenges presents an opportunity for me to explore emotional intelligence in improving my care for the patients(Shanta & Connolly 2013 p., 174)

Early career plans

As I proceed to become a registered nurse, I have had a lot of experience both in nursing education training and my experiential learning attachments. These have made to think about my future career plans and aspirations in nursing practice. I have planned early enough due to the experiences and skills attained from attachments. Application of this knowledge and skills should help me as I plan to practice in the next one to two ye


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Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Applying Transformational Leadership in Nursing Practice. (2021, Mar 03). Retrieved from

Applying Transformational Leadership in Nursing Practice essay
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