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What’s Your Leadership Style in Nursing?

leadership-styles-in-nursingby Brook Jillings

Your nursing leadership style affects the way people around you respond to your directions. It's important to know your natural style so you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of your approach and find middle ground. 

"As a relatively small team," says the RN Team from FirstCare. "We've always found that a supportive, flexible leadership style works the best."

Find out more about the different leadership styles in nursing and how you can refine your own nursing leadership style. 

5 Common Leadership Styles in Nursing

There are five leadership styles that are most commonly recognized in nursing and other industries. Each of these styles has unique effects on the people you come in contact with and can be used intermittently in different situations. 

Although you can adopt new leadership styles to get specific results, it's still important to know the leadership style in nursing that is most natural to your personality.

1. Authoritarian or Autocratic Leadership

The authoritarian leadership style, also known as autocratic, is characterized by someone who makes decisions without accepting input from others. 

This kind of leader often uses punishment to correct behavior and withholds critical information. 

Although this style often inspires fear and prevents the sharing of ideas, it can be beneficial in high-pressure situations when quick decisions must be made without question.

2. Democratic Leadership 

Nurses who use a democratic leadership style encourage participation and communication from staff and patients. Responsibility is divided among staff, and performance feedback is given to help each person improve. 

This type of leader focuses on the team, and individual mistakes are used as an opportunity to improve how the team works together. Solid relationships are required for this leadership style to be effective.

3. Laissez-faire Leadership

This style adopts a hands-off approach, with the leader making few decisions and providing little to no supervision or direction. 

The laissez-faire leader is resistant to proactive change, with most corrections being done in response to immediate issues. 

This is a common leadership style in nursing for new nurses who lack confidence in their abilities but can be beneficial when used to give autonomy to strong teams.

4. Transformational Leadership 

Transformational leaders are often inspirational, using their charisma to share their vision of success with the rest of the team. 

Motivating staff and building relationships are integral parts to make the transformational leadership style work, and these leaders often command the respect and admiration of colleagues who have benefited from their encouragement. 

These leaders usually have high levels of self-confidence which enables them to inspire their team.

5. Servant leadership

The servant leadership style involves building relationships with team members and working to build their individual strengths. 

This kind of leadership style in nursing holds the team above themselves and acts as a "servant" to team members by taking care of their needs so they can be successful as individuals, making the team successful as a whole. 

Teams under servant leaders have a solid understanding of the ideals and values of the facility and are encouraged to take part in decisions.

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