Leadership in Oncology Nursing


Contemporary hospital care is currently experiencing several issues, including financial constraints, evolving customer demands and expectations, workforce challenges, mandates to provide patient-centered care, increasing care access demands, and healthcare safety and quality-related issues. To address these problems adequately, Xu (2017) recommends adopting effective governance to promote efficient care management in healthcare settings. This paper expounds further on the leadership conceptualization by providing an overview of the different definitions of leadership, per contemporary literature, elucidates its significance in oncology nursing, and distinguishes one of the most preferred leadership styles.

Definition of Leadership

In their attempt to improve people’s understanding of the leadership conceptualization, researchers have developed several definitions related to this concept. For instance, according to Xu (2017), leadership involves influencing others to comprehend and agree about the actions that need to be implemented and the procedure for executing these activities. Xu (2017) further identifies leadership as the process of promoting or facilitating collective and individual efforts to accomplish or attain shared goals. Sfantou et al. (2017) define leadership as the underlying correlation between persons who lead and those who choose to follow. It relates to the act of coordinating and directing the actions of a group or team to achieve a shared objective.

Leadership is the procedure by which a person influences a follower to conduct oneself in a desired manner; it is the art of mobilizing other individuals to work towards accomplishing shared aspirations. It is a more comprehensive conceptualization than management; the latter focuses broadly on attaining organizational goals, whereas leadership occurs when an individual attempts to influence a group or an individual’s behavior (Wiernikowski, 2018). To lead, one should develop or acquire three significant competencies. They include the ability to understand or diagnose the underlying situation requiring your influence, adaptation to allow one’s conduct and other essential resources to minimize the gap between the prevailing circumstance and one’s aspired objectives, and proper communication.

Influential nurse leaders typically engage others to work collaboratively in pursuit of a common objective. Examples of shared goals in nursing include offering excellent patient care, challenging a new policy’s ethics, and developing a cost-saving process (Traunt, 2017). Leadership can, therefore, be surmised as the procedure of influencing an organized group’s activities in its efforts to develop SMART goals and attain them. A leader should be an efficacious trustworthy advocate who inspires courageous action using the two-way communication strategy to distinguish and interpret all teams’ needs within the workplace.

The Importance of Leadership in Oncology Nursing

Leadership is a crucial practice in oncology nursing due to several reasons. First, oncology nurse leaders play an instrumental role in sustaining nursing services’ delivery, efficiency, and cost-efficacy. According to Traunt (2017), appropriate leadership proficiencies empower nurse managers with the capacity to support and direct patients and healthcare teams during care delivery. It also helps improve the care provided to clients, which, in turn, enhances better patient outcomes, increased patient healthcare utilization, and patient satisfaction.

Moreover, effective leadership affects the quality and safety of care provided to clients. Nurse leaders typically emphasize clients’ safety as a priority which conducting various nursing care processes, including patient education, infection control, wound care, and medication management to attain optimal patient outcomes. The findings of a systematic review by Sfantou et al. (2017) support this view. The study results revealed a significant relationship between patient outcomes and nursing leadership practices (Sfantou et al., 2017). The outcomes further revealed a substantial correlation between effective leadership and the reduced incidence of pneumonia, urinary tract infections, patient falls, potential health complications, medication errors, and the decreased length of stay (Sfantou et al., 2017). Furthermore, Wiernikowski (2018) highlights nursing leadership’s role in improving the quality of care delivered to clients, decreasing patient mortality rates, and bettering patient outcomes. It is, therefore, evident that effective nursing leadership leads to improved patient outcomes and better and secure service delivery.

Second, effective oncology nursing leadership plays a crucial role in improving teamwork, interprofessional collaboration, job satisfaction, and increased motivation among nurses. One of a nurse leader’s fundamental duties is to bring nurses together as a unified team (Traunt, 2017). Without these professionals, individual nurses would execute their tasks independently and potentially miss primary opportunities for education, growth, and communication, which would, in turn, affect their morale and gratification rates. By fostering cohesion within the nursing team, nurse leaders work to ensure that every nurse conforms to the established safety and quality standards.

Third, effective nursing leadership within the oncology unit helps reinforce the established care standards. According to Traunt (2017), nurse leaders sustain the rigorous care standards that patients and their respective families anticipate from exemplary healthcare organizations. Wiernikowski (2018) further argues that these experts bridge the gap between practice and policy by ensuring that all team members adhere to the safety protocols. Furthermore, they improve their nursing team and profession’s reputation as a whole. If a nurse fails to conform to the established protocols, nurse leaders often attempt to educate them about the appropriate methods.

Leadership Style

Transformational leadership relates to a leadership approach whereby managers motivate, inspire, encourage, and inspire workers to innovate and develop change, deemed crucial in influencing an organization’s growth and success. Transformational managers often develop visions for their subordinates and oversee the change process through motivation and inspiration (Seljemo et al., 2020). This approach consists of four major components: individualized consideration, inspirational explanation, idealized influence, and intellectual stimulation (Seljemo et al., 2020). The latter refers to the extent to which a manager solicits followers’ ideas, take risks, and challenge assumptions; they recognize their subordinates through innovation, creativity, and stimulation.

Transformational managers who demonstrate idealized influence act as excellent role models for their subordinates due to their engagement in high ethical behavioral standards; they offer followers a sense of mission and vision. Inspirational motivation relates to the level to which a manager articulates a vision with motivates and inspires others to perform above expectations (Ree & Wiig, 2020). Moreover, individualized consideration relates to the degree to which a manager addresses every employee’s needs and is a guide, trainer, and mentor to their followers. These leaders listen to every worker’s demands and concerns and offer support, and are empathetic of every individual’s situation. They are usually aware of their followers’ unique talents and support them in advancing and implementing these behaviors and skills within the workplace.

Findings from various studies highlight the effectiveness of this leadership approach in improving nursing practice. For instance, a cross-sectional survey by Asif et al. (2019) revealed a positive correlation between transformational leadership and care quality, job satisfaction, and structural empowerment. The outcomes further revealed a negative relationship between this leadership style and nurse-evaluated adverse patient outcomes (Asif et al., 2019). The results of another cross-sectional study by Seljemo et al. (2020) demonstrated the efficacy of transformational leadership in developing and maintaining a realistic patient safety culture within nursing homes. This leadership style was also appropriate for balancing job demand and job resources (Seljemo et al., 2020). These research pieces’ findings highlight transformational leadership’s role in improving workers’ job performance, satisfaction rates, and patient outcomes.


In nursing, leadership involves:

  • Directing them throughout the process.
  • Providing an action cause.
  • Showing followers how to implement actions.

As part of the interdisciplinary team, nurses can lead the organization, especially in a fast-paced era typified by a highly complex surrounding and high patient equity. Effective clinical leadership practices are instrumental in ensuring the existence high-quality healthcare system that continually offers efficient and safe care. Furthermore, it indirectly affects employee retention, mortality rates, and staff stability.


Asif, M., Jameel, A., Hussain, A., Hwang, J., & Sahito, N. (2019). Linking transformational leadership with nurse-assessed adverse patient outcomes and the quality of care: Assessing the role of job satisfaction and structural empowerment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(13), 1–15. Web.

Ree, E., & Wiig, S. (2020). Linking transformational leadership, patient safety culture and work engagement in home care services. Nursing Open, 7(1), 256–264. Web.

Seljemo, C., Viksveen, P., & Ree, E. (2020). The role of transformational leadership, job demands and job resources for patient safety culture in Norwegian nursing homes: A cross-sectional study. BMC Health Services Research, 20, 1–8. Web.

Sfantou, D. F., Laliotis, A., Patelarou, A. E., Sifaki- Pistolla, D., Matalliotakis, M., & Patelarou, E. (2017). Importance of leadership style towards quality of care measures in healthcare settings: A systematic review. Healthcare (Basel), 5(4), 1–17. Web.

Truant, T. (2017). Future ready: Strengthening oncology nursing leadership in the context of professional oncology nursing organizations. Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal, 27(1), 2–4. Web.

Wiernikowski, J. (2018). Leading wherever and whenever: Ensuring oncology nurses are future ready. Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal, 28(1), 58–62. Web.

Xu, J-H. (2017). Leadership theory in clinical practice. Chinese Nursing Research, 4(4), 155–157. Web.

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