Leadership is pivotal to nursing because it can help to address many problems that are evident in clinical settings and have a negative influence on work processes and patient outcomes. Nurse leaders can utilize a vast variety of leadership styles to assist them in enhancing operations, protecting patient safety, and facilitating professional relationships in their workplaces. Leadership styles used in nursing can also support conflict management and support communication and decision-making. Consequently, selecting an appropriate leadership style can help nurse leaders to achieve better outcomes in their work while also supporting other nurses and employees.
Nursing Leadership and Care Quality
Various leadership styles can be used by nurse leaders to enhance the quality of care. These leadership styles differ based on their core principles, leader-member communication patterns, decision-making processes, and other features. Consequently, nurses can choose a leadership style that fits their work environment best. Research into various leadership styles in nursing has highlighted the relationship between specific leadership styles and the quality of care provided. For example, a study by Alloubani et al. (2019) found transformational leadership to have a positive impact on the quality of care provided in clinical settings. According to the study, the application of this leadership style helped to enhance nurses’ job effort, job satisfaction, and leader effectiveness (Alloubani et al., 2019). These factors are linked to the quality of care and patient outcomes since nurses who put extra effort into their work and have higher levels of satisfaction are less likely to experience burnout and make medical errors and are also more attentive to patients.
Another research study included a review of various leadership styles and their relationship with care quality and patient outcomes. The survey by Sfantou et al. (2017) supported the presence of a relationship between transformational leadership, care quality, and patient outcomes. The researchers also found transactional, task-oriented, and collaborative leadership to have a significant impact on patient satisfaction, which marks higher quality care and improved health outcomes among patients (Sfantou et al., 2017). Hence, nurse leaders willing to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes can apply these styles of leadership in their work.
Nursing Leadership and Conflict Management
In their workplaces, nurses can face various conflicts that can be intrapersonal, interpersonal, intragroup, and intergroup. Intrapersonal conflict arises within an individual, whereas interpersonal conflicts involve two or more people (Higazee, 2015). Two types of group conflicts can also be distinguished, with intragroup conflicts taking place inside a workgroup, and intergroup conflicts include two or more professional groups (Higazee, 2015). For example, conflicts between nurses and doctors would be an example of intergroup conflicts. Types of conflict in nursing also differ based on the persons involved and on the source of conflict. Value-based conflicts can stem from two or more people having different values affecting their work. Task conflicts are also frequent and involve two or more people with colliding tasks. Higazee (2015) states that the most common type of conflict in nursing is interprofessional conflict, which arises in communication or collaboration between nurses and other care providers. Leaders must address these conflicts to prevent them from impacting the quality of care delivered to patients.
Leadership styles can impact workplace conflict by influencing communication, collaboration, and decision-making. In particular, research highlights the role of relational leadership styles in conflict management. According to a systematic review by Cummings et al. (2018), authentic, transformational, and servant leadership styles had a positive effect on workplace conflict management and helped to improve collaboration between employees in clinical settings. In contrast, transactional and dissonant leadership styles were found to contribute to workplace conflict and prevent its resolution (Cummings et al., 2018). Hence, nurse leaders in Saudi Arabia and globally could use relational leadership styles to minimize conflicts and resolve them effectively.
Communication, Decision-Making, and Patient Outcomes
Communication and decision-making have a significant effect on nursing practice and the quality of care provided to patients. On the one hand, effective communication between care providers can help to ensure that all persons involved in diagnosis and treatment have the necessary information, thus preventing gaps in care delivery and medical errors leading to compromised patient safety (Gluyas, 2015). On the other hand, efficient decision-making also helps to improve patient outcomes because it prevents delays in care delivery and supports evidence-based, patient-centred care. Communication and decision-making are interrelated because excellent care decisions have to be based on information about the patient’s condition, past medical history, test results, and the patient’s preferences (Gluyas, 2015). By fostering effective communication between nurses and in interprofessional groups, nurse leaders can facilitate teamwork and enhance patient safety while also avoiding adverse outcomes in patients (Gluyas, 2015). High-quality communication should thus be among the core priorities of nurse leaders in choosing leadership approaches and techniques.
Nursing Leadership, Performance, and Work Environment
Various leadership styles have different effects on the performance and work environment of nurses. The systematic review by Cummings et al. (2018) shows that authentic, transformational, supportive, and change-oriented leadership had a positive influence on organizational culture and climate in clinical settings. Both of these factors have a substantial effect on the work environment since they impact relationships between workers and shape organizational values. Furthermore, some leadership styles correlated with higher performance among nurses. For instance, charismatic, authentic, supportive, and transformational leadership styles fostered individual, team, and organization performance in clinical settings by improving productivity and effectiveness (Cummings et al., 2018). Higher performance among nurses has a direct effect on patient outcomes because it ensures that all patients are attended to and that there are no errors or delays in care delivery. Similarly, the work environment can influence patient outcomes because it has an impact on the quality of care provided (Copanitsanou et al., 2017). Therefore, nurse leaders should choose the aforementioned leadership styles to support patient outcomes through enhanced performance and work environment.
Overall, nursing leadership has a significant impact on various workplace processes and characteristics. Nurses who select and apply appropriate leadership styles in their work are more likely to be more effective at managing conflicts, performance, work environment, and communication in their clinical settings. They are also more likely to be effective at promoting patient outcomes and achieving higher levels of patient satisfaction since these characteristics are impacted by various organizational factors. In selecting an appropriate leadership style, nurse leaders should take into account the problems that exist in their clinical context, as well as research studies into the effectiveness of different leadership approaches. This will help them to choose a specific leadership style that could benefit their subordinates, patients, and clinical teams, thus increasing their positive impact as a leader.
Alloubani, A., Akhu-Zaheya, L., Abdelhafiz, I. M., & Almatari, M. (2019). Leadership styles’ influence on the quality of nursing care. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 32(6), 1022-1033.
Copanitsanou, P., Fotos, N., & Brokalaki, H. (2017). Effects of work environment on patient and nurse outcomes. British Journal of Nursing, 26(3), 172-176.
Cummings, G. G., Tate, K., Lee, S., Wong, C. A., Paananen, T., Micaroni, S. P., & Chatterjee, G. E. (2018). Leadership styles and outcome patterns for the nursing workforce and work environment: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 85(1), 19-60.
Gluyas, H. (2015). Effective communication and teamwork promotes patient safety. Nursing Standard, 29(49), 50-57.
Higazee, M. Z. A. (2015). Types and levels of conflicts experienced by nurses in the hospital settings. Health Science Journal, 9(6), 1-7.
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, 5(4), 73-89.