Studying Nursing Leadership

Although all nurses can be viewed as leaders regardless of their role, there are some differences between management and leadership. While the manager is involved in numerous daily tasks and details related to patient care planning and ensuring the staff completes all assignments, the leader is less task-oriented and more focused on strategic long-range plans (Williamson, 2017). However, both managers and leaders must be committed to the organization, positively influence their staff, and have excellent decision-making skills to coordinate teams and delegate duties (Williamson, 2017). Therefore, there are some common and different responsibilities of nursing managers and nursing leaders.

Talking about leaders, it is vital they possess emotional intelligence. It is defined as the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around (Landry, 2019). This competence is essential for leaders because they set the tone for the organization and, therefore, must effectively communicate with their team (Landry, 2019). Thus, apart from the technical side of the work, leaders should pay attention to the emotional climate among group members, which is especially important for such intense work as nursing.

There exist five main leadership styles among successful nursing leaders. Transformational leadership is based on collaboration and the encouragement of innovations (Gibbons, 2020). Such leaders are most successful in situations where the system needs changes to be guided by a unifying force. A democratic leader allows members of the group to guide decision-making and management. Such leaders are best suited for situations where new relationships are being built between leadership and a group. In a laissez-faire style, a leader facilitates the group to develop solutions with a “hands-off” approach (Gibbons, 2020). These leaders must take measures when necessary, but their ability to interfere is limited in other situations. An autocratic style is the opposite, in which the leader delegates to others with rules and orders. This leadership style based on members’ unconditional subordination may be useful in healthcare during emergency situations. Servant leadership is a supportive style in which the leader is responsible for the skills, tools, and relationships necessary for team members to perform to the best of their ability. This style is most needed when there are no resources or support to create a more effective unit.


Gibbons, K. (2020). 5 leadership styles in nursing. Southern New Hampshire University. Web.

Landry, L. (2019). Why emotional intelligence is important in leadership. Harvard Business School Online. Web.

Williamson, E. (2017). Nurse manager vs. nurse leader: What’s the difference? Web.

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