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Nursing Leadership Philosophy

Cynthia M. Reid

Delaware Technical Community College


Nursing Leadership Philosophy

The profession of nursing requires confident nurse leaders. Nurses exhibit leadership

qualities every day, whether they are a nurse director, nurse manager, charge nurse or a staff

nurse. A nurse leader does not have to occupy a position of authority, but they should exhibit a

spirit of excellence. While true leadership does not require a title, it does require certain

attributes, such as, self -knowledge, expertise, authenticity, flexibility, vision, charisma, shared

leadership, and the ability to inspire and motivate followers.

While leadership may come naturally to some people, most must make a conscious effort

to develop the skills and knowledge it requires; and it is no different in the profession of nursing.

Most leaders approach their style of leadership, with a mixture of styles. It is essential that you

know and understand yourself, so that you can recognize your leadership style. There are several

approaches to leadership that are applicable in nursing practice. Transformational leadership is

an approach that focuses on the attributes and behaviors of the leader required to empower and

motivate team members (Collins, Owen, Digan, & Dunn, 2019). Transformational leaders are

decisive, confident, accountable, empathetic, optimistic, focused, and honest. I have integrated

the transformational leadership theory as my leadership style, it aligns with my characteristics,

beliefs and my leadership philosophy.

The transformational leadership concept was introduced by James McGregor Burns in

1978 and further developed by Bernard M. Bass. Transformational leadership is a framework

that uses vision, inspiration and intellectual stimulation to motivate people toward needed change

(McCaffrey & Reinoso, 2017). Finkelman (2016), defines transformational leadership as “a

theory or style that focuses on the need for leaders who are willing to embrace change, reward

staff, guide staff members in understanding their roles within the organization and the

importance of the organization or a positive work environment, and work toward developing a

self-aware staff that is able to take risks to improve.”

The transformational leadership model consists of four distinct components: idealized

influence, intellectual stimulation, inspired motivation, and individual consideration. These

components refer to a process that focuses on the exchange of views between leaders and

followers as well as by motivating the followers to work towards the desired changes (Krepia,

Katsaragakis, Kaitelidou, & Prezerakos, 2018).

Inspirational motivation- the leader inspires others to achieve.

Nurse leaders should be passionate about inspiring and motivating people to attain their dreams

and desires. They encourage others to set high and reasonable goals. I have been told by peers

that I encourage them. It is important to motivate and help develop other leaders, not only in

supporting their professional, but also personal growth. Leaders inspire commitment amongst

the staff, and they create a shared vision for their organization. A good leader encourages their

staff not only in the work environment, but they encourage them to expand their education also.

As a leader, I encourage my peers to never give up, to go beyond their limits. Transformational

leaders assist others to achieve things that they did not think that they were capable of

accomplishing. They see the potential leadership in others, and they cultivate it.

Idealized influence- the leader acts as a strong role model for their organization and leads by

example. A leader must maintain self-awareness, integrity, reliability, and provide direction and

guidance. As a role model, they inspire employees to put the good of the whole organization

above self-interest. Leaders encourage others to take responsibility for their work, even if it

produces a negative outcome; for this to occur, trust is a critical element. Transformational

Leaders are persuasive and confident, they exude charisma; it is these traits that empower leaders

to communicate the vision and inspire others. They are ethical, they would never ask others to

do anything they are not willing to do. As a nurse Leader, I approach any task with passion, and

a sense of purpose, and this is what is also expected of coworkers and staff. I have also worked

with nurse managers who have stepped in and worked right alongside their staff nurses.

Intellectual stimulation- the leader encourages their followers to think for themselves.

Part of being an effective leader is to have the ability to teach or inspire others to also be leaders.

Nurse leaders are essential in encouraging their followers to be innovative, to take risks and to be

a change agent within their organization. Leaders do not conform to the way things are done;

they look for other innovative ways. “Leader asks questions, takes risks, and are challenged by

change.” (Finkelman, 2016, p.16). Leaders are focused, but also flexible. Transformational

leaders have a strong ability to adapt to different situations, They also stimulate employees to be

more innovative, and they themselves take personal risks and are not afraid to use

unconventional (but always ethical) methods in order to achieve the collective vision (Krepia et

al., 2018). They create learning opportunities for their staff, they use all situations to enhance


Individualized consideration- the leader establishes a strong relationship with their staff.

It is essential, to have and exhibit a genuine concern and compassion. The most knowledge

nurse leader can be the least compassionate. Also, understanding and accepting others are basic

characteristics to possess in order to be a leader. Transformational leaders establish trust and

respect with their employees; hence the employees are motivated to do much more than is

expected from them. As a nurse leader, I know mutual respect is critical, when it occurs, open

and honest communication is cultivated. Leaders show their staff that they are important.

Leaders mentor others and allot their time to developing potential on others. Therefore, a leader

must have a strong insight of others, not just their strength, but, also their weaknesses. A leader

must also feel comfortable in the abilities of people, in order to assign the appropriate task.

Transformational leaders have a clear collective vision and most importantly they manage

to communicate it effectively to all employees. Nurse leaders are looked upon for their

experience, vision and knowledge (, 2018). A good nurse leader inspires other to

collaborate in the pursuit of a common goal. “The leader communicates to staff the importance

of their contributions and recognizes their successes. In doing so, the staff member is motivated

to continue to improve and be effective (Finkelman. 2016). Positive attitudes of staff may lead

to fewer medical errors, patient safety and nurse satisfaction, which are important factors in

success of the organization. Your staff and peers must feel comfortable in communicating with

you; you must be accessible and approachable. As a nurse leader I ensure that I

am approachable, and I continue to maintain a have a positive attitude. It is important to not let

your opinion have a negative influence on how you approach and interact with staff and/or

patients. The happiness and well-being of your peers will show up in how they perform and

ultimately in positive patient outcomes.

As a nurse leader I strive to be excellent, I challenge not only myself but others to do the

same. Leaders encourage their staff; they take a personal concern in knowing their staff not just

professionally but also personally. They learn about them individually as well as a team. It is

important for the team to understand each other’s perspectives, not just with the nursing staff but

also when they are collaborating with the inter-disciplinary teams.

People want to be led by people who have integrity and are trustworthy. When a leader

has these qualities, it makes the staff support the vision, and it makes for pleasant atmosphere.

When you have a leader who is demeaning, patronizing or negative or takes more of an

autocratic approach, this does not lead to a positive work environment. Duffield et al. (as cited

in Krepia et al., 2018) argued that transformational leadership positively affects nurses’ job

satisfaction. He also suggests that the supervision of nurses by transformational leaders has a

positive impact on their welfare and their ability to face stressful working situations.

As a nurse leader I strive for improvement. I am dedicated to furthering my knowledge,

but also inspiring my fellow coworkers to do the same. It is important that, not only I, but also

the staff are representing the organization in its best light. Finkelman (2016) asserts, “Leaders

are also persuasive in that they are able to convince others to make changes and to improve.

Through the leader’s influence, care can be improved, and the work situation can become more


As a nurse leader, I try to cultivate a positive environment, because a positive

environment improves attitudes toward the patient, and the work, which leads to improving

patient satisfaction and patient safety. “The evidence linking patient safety, nurse satisfaction,

and staff retention with improved patient outcomes, the financial bottom line and quality work

environments in hospitals is irrefutable” (Goodyear-Bruch et al., 2017). Leaders foster a positive

work environment. I experienced a charge nurse who was harsh, critical, and discouraging; this

produced a negative and intimidating work environment. There was no enthusiasm going to


Transformational leaders are confident and decisive. A nurse leader must have decision-

making skills. Decisions that are based on evidence-based practice or research are likely to

achieve expected or desired results; however, some situations that arise may be complex and

require judgement, those instances require decision making skills. Another key quality that a

leader must have is flexibility, throughout life things change, situations change, and opportunities

change. Leaders who are not willing to change, will remain stagnant; the profession of nursing

can never remain stagnant. The nursing profession is an ever-evolving entity, practices that

were used twenty years ago are no longer in effect.

Nurse leaders have the role of increasing competency while helping to improve quality

and patient outcomes. Developing other nurse leaders, creating an environment of confident,

satisfied nurses who consistently use evident-based practices, focusing on patient safety and

satisfaction are methods I will incorporate in my nursing career, to revolutionize bedside nursing.

The 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing report confirmed the vital role nurses

must play as change leaders in this time of transformation in healthcare. The closest clinicians to

patients at the bedside, nurses are uniquely positioned to understand patient needs and initiate

innovative solutions (Goodyear- Bruch et al., 2017). Initiating evident-based changes are also

methods to advocate for patients.

The profession of nursing is no stranger to advocacy. Nurse leaders are at the forefront

for advocacy for patients. Patient advocacy is important because it leads to patient safety and

patient satisfaction, our ultimate goal. I advocated for a patient to live at an assisted living

facility. My patient was concerned that she was a burden on her family physically, emotionally

and financially. She desired to have a sense of independence. Her family was concerned

because she was legally blind, and her sight was continuing to fail. The patient confided in me,

and I began to research facilities that could accommodate her needs. I comprised a list of

facilities and discussed the matter with my patient’s physician. He spoke with the family, and

they agreed to visit the facility and consider it as an option. The family agreed, on a trial basis.

The patient is currently residing in the assisted living facility. I advocated for my patient, even

though ultimately I would lose her as a patient. It was in the best interest of my patient.

As a nurse leader I want to advocate for changes to advance health not just in my

community, but worldwide. That is why I serve on mission trips with medical teams, to help

combat the decline of health, and create healthy communities worldwide. Everyone deserves the

right to quality medical treatment, not just those who can afford it. I have volunteered in

medical missions in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Belize. Advocacy is part of

life-long learning.

Throughout my nursing career, I will be defining my leadership style and philosophy,

leadership is cultivated throughout a lifetime. Although I identify with the transformational

leadership style, I understand that I must be acquainted with other leadership styles and theories.

Nursing leadership depends on the ability of determining which style of leadership to use, to lead

different groups, focusing on the employee’s needs and capabilities to ensure that employees are

performing at their full potential. Therefore, you be acquainted personally with your staff. You

cannot lead an organization of unexperienced nurses in the same manner that you would lead a

staff of experienced, knowledgeable nurses.

As a nurse leader, I intend to be instrumental in shifting healthcare into a more effective

and efficient system. One way to start, is by being engaged in healthcare policies. I am

committed to advocating for nurses by staying on top of nursing legislation. I am in constant

communication with issues concerning legislation on healthcare, I receive email blasts from local

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, Senator Tom Carper, and Senator Chris Coon. I attempt

to stay well-informed on all healthcare policies that are proposed.

Life-long learning is essential to nursing leadership. According to The American

Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), “Since nurses are primarily responsible for direct

patient care and care coordination, these clinicians should not be the least educated member of

the healthcare team.” (American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 2017). The

academic progression in nursing is imperative. Nurse leaders not only care for patients, they also

work alongside other interdisciplinary teams. This requires critical thinking and problem-solving

to be able to communicate on an advanced level. Although life-long learning does not mean

having to acquire additional degrees, it does involve continuing to be educated on evidence-

based practices, and new medical procedures. Life-long learning looks different to every leader.

I plan on achieving this by keeping abreast on all new and improved evidence-based practices. I

do this by taking Continuing education (CE) courses, subscribing and reading professional

nursing journals, and joining professional associations. I am currently a member of the

American Nursing Association (ANA), the Delaware Nursing Association (DNA) and the

National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). I attend nursing conferences so I can be at the

forefront of any new and improved practices, and I network with other professionals to learn and

integrate practices. In fall of 2021, I will be applying to the Nurse Practitioner MSN Program at

Drexel University and Widener University, with a concentration in Women’s Health/Gender

Related studies. My goal is to open a women’s health clinic to serve the economically

disadvantaged and underserved populations.

I did not acquire the qualities of a transformational leader when I became a nurse, I

already possessed those attributes, the transformational leadership style and theory will assist me

in developing my philosophy, in my career as a nurse leader.



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