Effective Leadership of the Registered Nurse in Home Care Essay
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It is difficult to define what makes an “effective” leadership in home care, but most of people would be able to distinguish between effective and weak leadership. Leading is associated with ‘leading the way’. Professionals who can see a way forward and can explain this to nurses and enthuse them to follow that path are often considered to be demonstrating leadership. In the language often used to describe leadership in home care this interprets as people who both have vision and are able to communicate the vision to nurses and to motivate them into taking action.
Leadership is important in the initiatives intended to develop and improve home care services. This type of leadership is essential in effective management of home care.
Effective leadership and team working
Leadership is essentially about relationships with staff. One can’t be a leader unless employees are prepared to go alongside or to follow one’s lead. Creating a good team is not a one-off activity that can be achieved through an ‘away day’, although this also can be a useful mechanism.
It is a continuing process that should to be continually worked at. The team may be very diverse in knowledge, skills and experience. Effective leadership in a multi-disciplinary context can be hindered by lack of understanding of each other’s roles (Kadushin 67). Therefore, the effective leader must ensure that there is opportunity and encouragement to explore the differences rather than leaving them partially recognized and potentially damaging.
There is a fairly wide unanimity that there is no one right way to be an effective leader in home care (Zarit 34). As every situation is different, leaders often have to be flexible in choosing what style to adopt. Leaders should be able to balance the needs of the individuals, the staff and the task. Style is often considered as a continuum of possibilities between the opposing approaches of being very directive or consultative to the point of delegating decisions. A very directive style, for example, would be to tell a nurse exactly what to do without discussing anything. The opposite would be a delegating style. Here the leader hands over most, if not all, of the decision making. There are dangers in both of these styles. Therefore, effective leader will adopt a mixture of directive and consultative styles according to the situation and the people and tasks involved. Some of the approaches that effective leader can take come between a directive style and complete delegation. These are the following (Austin 90):
■ selling – the leader explains his or her decision to staff and overcome any objections;
■ shaping – the leader takes the key decisions and then involve staff in shaping how to implement decisions;
■ consulting – the leader invites comment and ideas and considers these in coming to key decisions;
■ selective delegation – the leader delegates decisions within a framework that defines the boundaries of the delegated authority. The leader also ensures that the person to whom he or she has delegated has the training and support to carry out the role.
If nurses are frightened of being blamed if mistakes are made it is important for leader to ensure that individuals are not put at risk. The further the leader comes down this list of approaches, the more freedom the leader is perceived to be offering staff. Staffs often want to have some freedom. This is in case, if they are well prepared for the responsibilities that involvement and delegation bring. It is important, however, for the leader to be aware of the expectations in any environment and to use appropriate styles that will work for the employees.
Power in effective leadership
Leader with power can get things done and can stop things from happening. The use of power on staff can cause misery and fear or give the confidence of approval and protection. Effective leaders are often thought to be powerful people whose power on staff gives the confidence of approval and protection. Power of leadership is an energy that can be used in different ways in home care according to the source from which the power is derived. Effective leader needs some power to lead or manage staff because nurses who are to carry out the tasks and activities need to be empowered to do it. However, it is often more effective to be able to work influentially within an environment where many nurses hold power.
The very important early stages involve developing the vision of the tasks in a way that encourages nurses to see its value (Austin 67). This vision has to be communicated to nurses. Then it has to be turned into a set of plans that provide the strategy through which the tasks will be accomplished. The effective leader then has to help everyone to maintain progress towards achieving successful outcomes. This is often connected with being a lighthouse and providing the beam of light that directs the nurses.
The role of the effective leader is often described as being connected with vision and values and the role of the manager as ensuring effective and efficient actions. The role of the effective leader can be seen as to develop, communicate and maintain the vision. The leader motivates everyone to progress in the right direction and ensures that the strategy is enacted with plans, activities and tasks. Most projects, particularly those in home care settings, include complex settings having many different views and expectations. In such settings it is always difficult to take action because nurses will be interested, concerned or vulnerable. Therefore, the leader will need negotiating and teaching skills.
Effective leaders in home care have to go backwards through the stages of creating a successful team many times before things run smoothly. Life is never as simple as models and styles might suggest. Leaders in teams can help nurses to understand what is happening and often can facilitate productive discussions when storming seems to be distracting the tasks. If emphasis is placed on the value and importance of achieving the goals successfully, discussions must be kept focused about how to progress. It is usually helpful to ensure that every nurse is involved in discussions about working practice because if they are not, there will be a feeling of exclusion and maybe fear of blame. Effective leaders within the team contribute to ensuring that the common commitment to achieving the good results.