How to apply leadership theories in a nursing essay?

by Dr. Alan December 07, 2020

Nursing in Australia follows a very comprehensive curriculum. The medical schools put equal focus on both theoretical and practical aspects of the industry. Leadership and management, for instance, is an essential aspect of nursing that requires ample research.

Students often have to write articles and nursing essays outlining various leadership theories. These assignments highlight how leadership theories are applied in real-life scenarios for effective patient care.

If you are a student wondering about how to correlate nursing with leadership, then this is the right place for you. Here are some collective leadership theories you can expand upon when writing your next nursing essay.

Nursing assignments and leadership theories help with the holistic development of the candidate.

Leadership and nursing

Leadership and nursing are very closely intertwined. In fact, any sector that involves people management needs a good leader. In the nursing field, the senior nursing staff is responsible for allocating duties to the interns. They have to overlook the day to day activities inside the hospital and ensure everything is in order.

Our idea of leadership has changed drastically over the years. The earliest leadership theories, like the Great man theory or the Trait theory, had a traditional checklist for a good leader. Back then, people believed that good leaders were born and not made

Over time, the general perception of leadership has also evolved. A good leader in the nursing sector is someone strict yet sensitive, energetic yet emphatic. According to the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC), there are five main leadership theories for nursing.

Autocratic leadership

Autocratic leadership, as the name suggests, is exceptionally authoritative in nature. An autocratic nurse is A Boss inside the hospital. They depend on the absolute obedience of the staff working under them.

An autocratic nurse would give specific orders and directions to people under them. They take the major decisions of the hospital as well, allocating tasks to members they deem fit for the job. Autocratic leaders don’t encourage questions or any form of dissent to their authority.

Autocratic leadership works best in emergency situations when the leader has to make quick decisions. Their authority and dominance are what keeps the contingency under control. However, this leadership style is not suitable for daily operations.

Also, most autocratic leaders are from the top positions within the hospital. You cannot expect a mid-level nursing professional to take this drastic and often intimidating stance.  

Democratic leadership

Democratic leadership is where the leader is elected from among the staff members. This concept is diametrically opposed to the earlier leadership theories like Trait theory. Here, anyone can become a leader, irrespective of hierarchies.

Here, the democratic nurse encourages team members to participate in the decision-making process. This structure aims to involve everyone present on the team and get them on-board. However, republican leadership doesn’t work well when you want to make emergency decisions.

This system works on responsive feedback and excellent communication channels. The leaders take the responsibility to create an inclusive and safe workspace for everyone to express their opinions. You can justify this leadership style for daily operations inside a clinic.

Laisse-Faire leadership

Laisse-Faire leadership styles are entirely opposite to autocratic leadership. Here, the head nurse takes an impulsive and offhand stance when it comes to controlling her team. The leader here is a lot more flexible and accommodating as compared to other leadership styles

The head nurse following the Laizzes-faire method would be laid-back, complacent, and spontaneous in their management. However, that is not to say that such a leader would be inefficient at their job. On the contrary, this leadership style works wonders with experienced team members.

However, the downside to this leadership style is that you cannot apply it to an amateur team. The Laizzes-Faire leader works well in a familiar work environment where they know the ins and outs of the team well.

This leadership format would work best in small, close-knit organisations and clinics. It gives the leader the freedom to establish an emotional connection with their team members.

Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is perhaps one of the most well-known techniques that most institutions prefer. This system is also known as the visionary leadership style. It is because the leader always keeps the bigger picture in mind before taking any decision.

A visionary leader thinks big. A nurse in that position would think about improving patient care, customer support and other processes. It is a very holistic and inclusive way of getting things done around the workplace.

Transformational leadership, as the name suggests, is excellent for bringing about ground-level changes within the clinic. A transformational leader usually occupies a higher position in the hierarchy.

Servant leadership

Servant leadership is all about serving the team in the best possible way. Here, the servant leader nurse focuses on their workspace as a whole and not individual members. And although servant leadership sounds quite meek, it is a popular style of employee management in recent years.

Servant leadership ensures that everyone on the team has access to the right tools and resources needed for the job. The leaders conduct workshops, group sessions to train the nursing staff about patient care, medication and more.

Servant leadership works well in diverse work environments, where the team has different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. However, this system proves to be ineffective when you need to make a quick decision within the organisation.

A Good Leader in the nursing sector is someone strict yet sensitive, energetic yet emphatic.

How to begin the nursing essay?

The nursing curriculum is pretty extensive in terms of theories and concepts applicable to real-life workspaces. Medical graduates often apply for senior or mid-level nursing positions in a hospital. In Australia, healthcare clinics evaluate nurses based on their practical skills and academic merit

Nursing assignments and leadership theories help with the holistic development of the candidate. Begin your essay with a short introduction to set the background for your leadership position.

You can then expand upon the various leadership theories discussed above. Add a few case studies, surveys, and stats to back up your arguments. The main body must also include infographics, references, and appropriate explanations.

In the concluding paras, reinstate your key points to remind the reader about your arguments. You can also talk about the scope of the nursing sector and how these leadership theories can improve matters inside the clinic.  

I recommend students to follow either of the two leadership models popular for nursing teams. Both these formats depend heavily on communication and reflection.  

Gibbs model of reflection

Gibbs model of representation is a cyclic process that depends on feedback and evaluation. Here, the leader tries to question, communicate, and bond with their team on a personal level. The management hierarchy is more flexible and more comfortable to adjust to.

The practitioner uses the team’s feedback to analyse the emotional and perceptions evoked by a situation. Based on these findings, they figure out an appropriate way to broach the subject and find an effective solution.

The Gibbs model is ideal for small teams with a lot of cultural diversity and different viewpoints. The system is not very expansive though and doesn’t work well in large-scale medical centres.

Johns model of Reflection

Johns model is a lot more complicated but inclusive when compared to the former Gibbs model of reflection. This technique is also relatively modern and considers personal and professional feedback from the team.

John’s model is based on five distinct points.

  • Aesthetic
  • Ethical
  • Personal
  • Empirical
  • Reflective

These five elements make up the subjective and external communication channels for the team. This allows your team to reflect on their workspace practices and also evaluate their leader’s decision-making abilities.

Citations and bibliography

Citations come towards the very end of your essay. I suggest students follow APA or Harvard in-text referencing styles for their nursing essay. You can consult your peers and professors for more details on the same.

The APA in-text referencing usually follows the author-text format. The other details of the reference come later in the reference list section. I also recommend that students add extra footnotes and annotations to their bibliography.

This is a great way to provide new insights to your research. It also piques the interest of the reader who can then refer to these annotations.

Quick links and references

I have curated a list of reference links and reading material that you can refer to for your next nursing essay. These references are taken from credible university and government websites. You can also cite them on your assignment for extra brownie points.

Citation generator: citethisforme

APA referencing format

Harvard referencing guidelines

Nursing essay format

Leadership theories in nursing

The Bottom Line

The healthcare sector is a lucrative field for students who want to excel in medicine. Nursing is one such career option that offers a lot of scope for students. Anyone passionate about caring for patients and helping them heal should opt for nursing courses.

However, nursing doesn’t just involve patient care but also excellent people skills. This is where leadership and employee management come in the picture. I hope these nursing theories would help you ace your next assignment with flying colours. Good luck.  

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