NURS 6053 Leadership Theories in Practice Discussion

Healthcare organizations, just like any other, rely on leadership for their day-to-day running and success. Nurses need to have effective leadership skills when working in any environment so that they can influence the flow of activities to attain certain goals. Leaders exist at all levels of an organization both in formal and informal terms. The importance of leadership led to the development of several leadership theories based on traits of leaders, behavior or styles approaches to leadership, and contingency theories. Despite there being elaborate literature that describes these theories, real-world observation and experiences indicate that most of them are not always so easily found in practice. 

The behavioral or style approaches to leadership include authoritarian, democratic, person-oriented, and task-orientated styles of leadership. All these styles have their unique advantages and disadvantages. However, nurses often apply them selectively depending on different circumstances (Broome & Marshall, 2021). Whilst there exists a big difference between authoritarian and democratic leadership styles, snippets of each can be applied by nursing leaders to achieve personal or organizational goals. Person-oriented leaders are more inclined towards building good rapport and interpersonal relationships as well as showing support for subordinates, while task-orientated leaders are inclined towards role assignment and planning to ensure task completion and goal attainment.

The trait approach in evaluating leadership is the most practical theoretical understanding not only in nursing but also in other disciplines. One of the most widely accepted descriptions of personality is the Big Five Personality Traits Model that rates an individual according to openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Research indicates that some of these traits determine leadership emergence. Thus, several traits that cut across personality characteristics and psychological attributes, can be used to distinguish leaders from non-leaders. Among the listed good attributes that tend to increase effective leadership amongst nurses include high emotional intelligence and transformational leadership behaviors, self-esteem, and integrity (Prezerakos, 2018). Since the workplace dynamic often presents with changing circumstances, it is important to identify the conditions under which different traits affect a leader’s performance, as well as whether a person emerges as a leader.

The sources I selected for review had clear explanations with regards to leadership goals, key of which is the attainment of desired goals and outcomes. Emotional intelligence is essential for effective leadership since it involves understanding and communicating with people from diverse backgrounds in many different circumstances, and not overbearing on work results (Prezerakos (2018). Further, according to Duggan et al., (2015), good leadership entails having those at the helm being able to apply participatory decision-making and non-hierarchical collaboration, effective communication missions and visions and being supportive of quality improvements. Duggan et al. (2015) also mention that effective leaders have sufficient skills and experience to enable them to prioritize workforce development and influence other workers. Asamani, Naab, and Ofei (2016) established that while most nurse leaders use different leadership styles depending on circumstances, the majority prefer the supportive leadership style. 

Based on the above discussion, effective leaders are those that not only help in the attainment of organizational goals but also relate well with colleagues. In practice, there is never a clear-cut distinction as to which styles of leadership most nurses apply. Nurses who understand when or where to apply each of these leadership styles tend to perform better in terms of maintaining a cohesive working environment, improving nursing staff retention, and increasing the delivery of safe and effective care to patients. In my experience, I find nurses who have internal motivation, good social skills, and high emotional intelligence to have an easy time as managers in most hospital settings.


  • Asamani, J. A., Naab, F., & Ofei, A. M. A. (2016). Leadership styles in nursing management: implications for staff outcomes. Journal of Health Sciences6(1), 23-36.
  • Broome, M., & Marshall, E. S. (2021). Transformational leadership in nursing: From expert clinician to influential leader (3rd Ed.). New York, NY: Springer.
  • Duggan, K., Aisaka, K., Tabak, R. G., Smith, C., Erwin, P., & Brownson, R. C. (2015). Implementing administrative evidence-based practices: lessons from the field in six local health departments across the United States. BMC Health Services Research15(1), 1-9. DOI: 10.1186/s12913-015-0891-3.
  • Prezerakos, P. E. (2018). Nurse managers’ emotional intelligence and effective leadership: A review of the current evidence. The Open Nursing Journal12, 86-92.