Leadership Styles and Power in Nursing

Leadership is an important aspect in nursing because apart from offering motivation to staff members, it also affects patient care. Every nursing department is composed of various mini-departments that seek to fulfill various roles around the hospital and this makes leadership in nursing to be an important undertaking. Before becoming a nurse, I had the chance to come across and witness various types of leadership. Nevertheless, I reckon that the most prevalent type of leadership among nurses is authoritarian. In this type of leadership, a leading nurse often puts the needs of patients, doctors, and other stakeholders above the needs of his/her employees. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a crop of nurse leaders who prioritize the needs of their workers while the demands of all others come second (Upenieks, 2012). In my experience, I have found that it is important to strike a balance between the needs of my employees and other nursing demands. Consequently, I have chosen to adopt a democratic style of leadership while fulfilling my duties as a nurse leader. A democratic leader is effective in a nursing environment because he/she is always open to communication and deliberations. Consequently, a democratic leader encourages staff participation in all areas of operations including decision-making and policy formulation. As a democratic leader, it is important to know that all workers are up to the task because they are responsible, accountable, and productive. This paper offers an analysis of leadership through the eyes of a nurse leader.

A leadership style is not something that can be picked from a catalogue. However, leadership is made up of a combination of factors including personal, environmental, and situational aspects. It is important to note that a leader is always evolving and as such, his/her leadership style might change over a certain period of time. Leaders should also be in the habit of evaluating their own styles of leadership with respect to its effectiveness. My democratic style of leadership is a product of various aspects of management versus the operational needs of my organization. The nursing department is constituted with individuals who serve a number of roles. Nevertheless, most of the roles that are conducted by nurses involve carrying out the instructions of doctors and other hospital practitioners. Leading a team of nurses can take up various perspectives because nursing teams are fragmented in terms of duties and departments. Consequently, strong leadership is required to help unite the various nurses’ departments that exist within an organization. My democratic style of leadership is informed by the fact that results can only be achieved through the efforts of the entire team. Therefore, my leadership style is more participative in nature and this ensures that the existence of all staff members is acknowledged. Furthermore, my success as a leader depends on the support I get from my staff. The benefits that come from the success of a democratic style of leadership are experienced by both leaders and their workers.

I chose the democratic style of leadership over an autocratic or a dictatorial method. Consequently, I restrain from being the only decision-maker in the organization. I seek the opinions of my staff and co-workers. I also endeavor to be fair in all aspects of my decision making process. Most of the decisions that I have made so far have elements of a democratic decision making process. I value all the input that I get from my co-workers but I also assert my position as a leader by ensuring that all final decisions depend on me. Ego is a strong deterrent of strong leadership and it is important for leaders to keep theirs in check. Egos act as an obstacle to effective leadership because they prevent leaders from seeking consultations from their employees. When leaders are unable to have consultative audiences with their staff members and coworkers, it becomes hard for the organization to achieve any results. In my opinion, seeking opinions streamlines the activities of an organization and boosts the morale of the team players. Teamwork is a strong element of my leadership style and it has also shaped most of my philosophies as a leader.

Leadership and leaders keep evolving. Consequently, over the course of my leadership experiences, I have had to adjust some aspects my leadership styles. However, I have not made any significant changes to my leadership style over the years. One significant change that has occurred in the course of my leadership experience involves mastering the art of being more assertive. When I first took up a leadership position, I realized that people were mistaking my laid-back style of leadership for complacency. Consequently, some of my colleagues and my superiors started to doubt my style of leadership. Eventually, I had to adjust my style of leadership in order to make it more efficient. I accomplished this by ensuring that I pronounced my directions in a firm manner. In addition, I have learnt to restrain myself from shifting my decisions whenever there is outside pressure. I only change my decisions if it is necessary. Furthermore, I learnt to be more assertive by ensuring that my laid back social persona only existed in unofficial environments. Therefore, I learnt to assume a firm and fair persona when I was acting in an official capacity. Separating my official and unofficial personas made it possible for me to continue enjoying the cordial relationships that I previously enjoyed with my colleagues whilst building the image of an assertive leader. It is possible that I will continue to change and adjust my leadership style in accordance with the job requirements.

Leaders come across several challenges in the course of their careers. Most of the challenges that are faced by leaders include having their credibility doubted and failing to meet their goals. Nevertheless, being a good leader requires an individual to have the ability to face challenges of all kind. When challenges are not handled appropriately, they can end up jeopardizing an individual’s position as a leader. One of the greatest challenges that I have faced during my tenure as a leader involves being looked down upon due to my age, race, and gender. I am a 34-year-old African American some of these predispositions have acted as a source of disrespect from some individuals. Some people are quick to doubt my effectiveness as a leader owing to my young age. Most of the people who doubt my effectiveness as a leader argue that my young age is a strong indicator of inexperience. In other instances, some patients and doctors have used racial stereotypes to discredit my leadership qualities. Furthermore, I started my career as a bedside nurse and my affiliation to these humble beginnings have acted as an inspiration when I am handling challenges. For instance, most of the challenges that I often face also involve lower ranking nurses. My prior experience as an ordinary nurse helps me to overcome these challenges while being sympathetic to the plight of my staff and other coworkers.

There are few instances of formal power in my organization because most operations that occur in the hospital require minimum supervision. For instance, most doctors and nurses carry out their duties independently and they are only required to consult and confer with their colleagues. Instances of strict supervision are only witnessed when things go wrong. In addition, even the people in leadership positions such as head nurses and resident directors often treat their subjects as equals because they often have equal levels of medical expertise (Sellgren, Ekvall & Tomson, 2008). Consequently, formal power within my organization is only common with the leaders who do not perform patient related duties. Examples of leaders who have formal power are the vice-president of nursing and the president of the hospital. Trends indicate that informal leaders such as myself have more influence on the staff members than the formal ones.


Sellgren, S., Ekvall, G., & Tomson, G. (2008). Leadership styles in nursing management: preferred and perceived. Journal of Nursing Management, 14(5), 348-355.

Upenieks, V. V. (2012). What constitutes successful nurse leadership?: A qualitative approach utilizing Kanter’s Theory of Organizational Behavior. Journal of Nursing Administration, 32(12), 622-632.

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