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Class/Lesson 8

Leadership in Nursing Practice
Week of March 13-19, 2000

A Definition of Leadership in Nursing Practice
Leadership Styles
Student Seminar Presentation on Leadership
Learning Activities

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The reading assignment for this week is chapter 7 in your text. The focus this week is on leadership in nursing practice.

A Definition of Leadership in Nursing Practice

Your text makes a distinction between leadership and managing. Leddy and Pepper, (1993, page 384) define nursing leadership as "a mutual process of interpersonal influence through which a client is assisted to make decisions in establishing and achieving goals toward improved well-being and the professional nurseís practice is validated and professional growth is enhanced." Effective leadership is a process that can be learned and requires an understanding of the needs of the people one is leading and understanding how to motivate people.

Leadership Styles

A definition of leadership style is provided by Nunnery as well as a discussion of three leadership styles. A leader does not utilize the same leadership style at all times.  The style used will vary with the situation, the task to be accomplished, and the individuals one is working with at the time. Leaders will change the style of leadership in order to maximize their leadership effectiveness. Check out the following sites for definitions of different leadership styles and this latter site discusses the when the different types of leadership would be effective and when effective.

There are many sources that discuss leadership and management and the following site compares leader traits and manager traits. Click on this address and and read about the traits You might find the following questionnaire helpful to understand yourself, check out or  

There are many tests to use in determining your leadership style and at the following site you can find one such test, however, I liked this site because of the discussion of the different patterns of leadership behavior. You can check it out by clicking on the address

Qualities that a leader has vary with the individual but each of have an idea of the qualities the ideal leader should possess. The following article discusses ideal qualities of leadership.

Managing is a part of effective leadership, but the words are not interchangeable. Gardner (1990) explains the managing task of leadership involves several dimensions.
1. Planning and setting priorities        
2. Creating processors and structures
3. Providing, delegating and coordinating the groups activities
4. Making decisions, even difficult ones                         

In order for a manager to be effective, he or she also need to be able to plan, organize, staff, lead, and to control. Leaders deal with effectiveness; managers deal with efficiency (Plunkett and Attner 1997).
According to Tappen, et al.(1998), some differences between leadership and management are as follows:



*based on influence *based on authority and influence
*an informal designation *a formally designated position
*an achieved position *an assigned position
*part of every nurses role *usually responsible for budgets, hiring and firing
*independent of management *improved by the use of leadership skills

In Nunnery (1997) a projection of future nursing leadership is made giving some key criteria.
1. The nurse of the twenty-first century will be energetic and use time effectively.
2. The nursing leaders will need a clear vision of what they want for their profession, for individuals, families and the communities they serve.
3. They must be willing to fight for excellence and unwilling to accept mediocrity.
4. They must be flexible and willing to deal with uncertainty.
5. They must be self assured and self confident, but open to new ideas.

If nursing is to be recognized as a powerful force in healthcare, our leaders need to be articulate, competent and credible, and will be able to work with interdisciplinary teams. We as nurses, must incorporate all these qualities into our professional practice to assure a strong future for our profession in the twenty-first century.

Student Seminar Presentation on Leadership
The Leadership Role in Nursing (Bill Hutchinson)


  1. To define leadership. To explain the difference in leadership and management.

  2. To differentiate and explain the three types of leadership.

  3. To identify the skills required to be an effective leader in the twenty-first century.

  4. To assist the nurse in transitioning from a role of staff to that including managed care in the hospital and community setting.

According to Nunnery, Chapter 8, on Leadership, the definition of "Leadership" is identified as a set of traits, a position within a group that commits to showing persuasion involving strength as power to achieve or succeed in your goals. How the individual performs as a leader, varies from nurse to nurse, depending on the position type and the institutionís job description for that position. Leadership can be done effectively at all levels of the Nursing spectrum from the staff nurse assistant to the Chief Nursing of a major institution. It is how the nurse acts as a leader in motivating others above or below to achieve his or her goal that leadership is successful as an art.

The style by which we act as leaders in our roles can be identified as three types, which are the authoritative, lassiez-faire, and democratic. Depending on the individuals self style, and the force or power by which one leads or directs others in the path of success. The authoritative style can be seen as a leader with high power tactics over a group leaving very little for others to actively become involved with process changes or improvements. Others ideas are mostly ignored, and the individual leads with strong control with the expectation that all others will conform to his or her rules. Lassiez-faire leaders can be seen as the type of leader who offers little or no motivation to others in the group. Others in the group have some freedom and self-control but can soon lead to stagnation and apathy or disinterest in the success of the group or process. The democratic method of leadership style is seen as the most productive within a group setting because this offers room for the group to be one in decision making with the leader identifying individual strengths and weaknesses and guides the group with motivating questions and suggestions.

The Nunnery explains several theories including 1/the great man leadership theory, 2/traitist theories, 3/situational leadership theory, 4/transformational leadership theory, and 5/leadership tasks theory. Anyone of these theories are easily identifiable in our lives today, from our England neighbors as seen with the monarchy to our selves with use of the check system involving politics and government. Leadership, I (Bill Hutchison) believe it is best described by John Gardner with the effective components in leadership and tasks, the 5th theory mentioned. The tasks being envisioning goals, affirming values, motivating, managing, achieving a workable unity, explaining, serving as a symbol, representing the group, and renewing. These tasks according to Gardner, and I (Bill Hutchison) agree, are the requirements for "exercising true leadership" within an individual and certainly pushes one to enable another person or group in the direction of success and achieving oneís goal.

In Nursing, it is important for the nurse to understand ones behavior and identify ones own leadership style, especially when it comes to envisioning a new and improved practice whether it be as an active role or a passive role with in the nursing career community. Leadership is the best tactic that one can use to motivate others and renew interest in others in attaining goals that are for the good of all. There is a book available for any nurse to read that is an excellent source of leadership and management improvement titled the "One Minute Manager", by Kenneth H. Blanchard that is available in the Ablah Library. It is a self-help book that is somewhat small and easy to read that gives excellent information on how to apply leadership in your every day life and work environment to be a successful leader as well as manager.

Student Generated Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss your own perspective and share with the group your leadership ability as you see it today in your job or position.
  2. How does it relate to the theorists and how do other levels of leadership throughout the "nursing community" within which you currently work or active nursing group you may be involved in relate as well?
  3. What are your feelings or ideas of an "effective leader" and give an example of your idea?
  4. Identify someone from your past or present who has been or is seen as exemplary of excellent leadership with in nursing or everyday community and the part of that individualís tactics that you may or may not have adopted?


    American Psychological Association.  (1994).  Publication manual of the American psychological association (4th ed.).  Washington, DCL  Author.

    Bass, B. M. (1990).  Bass and Stogdills handbook leadership: Theory, research. and managerial applications (3rd ed.). New York: The Free Press.

    Gardner, J. W. (1990). On Leadership. New York: The Free Press.

    Leddy. S. & Pepper, J. M.  (1993). Conceptual bases of professional nursing (3rd ed.).  Philadelphia:  J.B. Lippincott.

    Plunkett, W.R. & Attner, R. F.(1997).  Management: Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations.

(6th ed.) Cincinnatti, Ohio: South-Western College Publishing.

    Tappen, R.M., Weiss, S. A., & Whitehead, D.K. (1998).  Essentials of Nursing Leadership and Management. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Co.


Activity Key

Lesson Activity

1. Read chapter 8 in the text.

2. Log on the discussion board and discuss the following items in the appropriate thread. You will note that I have combined the student submitted discussion questions with instructor generated questions.

2.a Describe characteristics that you believe a good (ideal) leader posses, and complete chapter exercise number one on page 138 of your text. What leadership qualities will be needed for the nurse of the 21st century.
2.b  Discuss your own perspective and share with the group your leadership ability as you see it today in your job or position.
2.c  What are your feelings or ideas of an "effective leader"? and give an example of your idea.
2.d  Identify someone from your past or present who has been or is seen as exemplary of excellent leadership within nursing or everyday community and the part of that individual's tactics that you may or may not have adopted.



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