Leadership theories in healthcare practice

Published: 2019-10-24 08:00:00
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Leadership as a word has various definitions depending on the person who is faced to answer the same. The Webster Dictionary defines it as the capability to lead other people. All the same, different individuals have different meanings. According to Mathew Adams, director of communications, True-Color Bandages, leadership is the act of being humble towards fellow employees and putting them first so the company may achieve growth to greater heights. It entails time investment in employees so as to ensure that they are comfortable while at the workplace hence leading to increased efficiency and workmanship. Stan Kimer, President, Total Engagement Consulting, leadership entails effectiveness at workplaces by providing psyched motivation and focused vision to enable a working team of employees achieve a certain goal while being cognizant of each employees talents, skills and temperaments. There are various theories that strive to explain various leadership styles in various workplaces. Based on the context of this article whereby it tries to analyze the various theories in a hospital context where the employees are majorly nurses. Hospital environments are normally very diverse with issues and pressures considering the nature of work undertaken and its nobility. Its a workplace containing a very diverse pool of intellectuals and practitioners. Nurses being hands on and quite technical in their day-to-day undertakings, there are various leadership theories that can best suite their management. All in all, if good leadership is practiced in a hospital setting, chances are that many or even more patients would want to come back to the same hospital or even refer other patients to the same hospital. Good leadership management in a hospital increases the confidence levels in patients as to the level of patient care they anticipate to get from a hospital.

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As mentioned above, there are various theories of leadership that can be inculcated in healthcare practice. Good or targeted results can be achieved depending on how the specific theory is implemented or put into practice. Firstly, there is the Great man /trait theory. In Theories Of Leadership according to Prof. Khagendra , leaders are always born but not made meaning that an individual may or may not have the requisite traits of a leader. In this kind of a theory, the leader tends to be charismatic and is easily recognized in whichever position he/she is. The theory tends to be intertwined with Trait Theory. In Technical, Conceptual and Human Skill, Katz 1974, says that traits of an individual play a crucial role in leadership compared to his/her analytic or predictive value addition. Whereas a good leader ought to possess qualities such as ambition, enthusiasm, honesty, self-confidence, intelligence etc., as per the afore-mentioned theories, a leader might possess a few of the mentioned qualities. In healthcare practice, this theory can come in handy especially when the leader is naturally confident as this would impart a sense of confidence in patients and the nurses being led since confidence shows that a leader knows what he/she is doing. This theory claims that leaders emerge based on situations and tasks that might arise. Kenny, D. A.; Zaccaro, S. J. (1983).

In behavioral theory, Prof. Khagendra defines it as qualities of a leader based on the specific behaviors of the leader in question. This theory tries to emphasize on what a specific leader can do. This theory normally is as a result of role behavior and is action oriented. This theory proposes that effective and non-effective leaders and non-leaders are differentiated by their behaviors. Through this style of leadership, nurses tend to emulate the good behaviors of their leaders hence leading to good work ethics. Good behavior might entail showing empathy, which most patients need, being helpful and always being there for patients, especially the terminally ill. It takes a strong personality with fairly strong ego to lead so long as the individual is very confident in what he/she is doing and has a high self-esteem, Horton, Thomas. New York: The CEO Paradox (1992).

According to Kendra Cherry, 2016, situational theory type of leadership is whereby different situations or instances at hand or at a particular moment call for different kinds of leadership approaches and strategies suited for that particular issues. This styles calls for adaptive easiness when faced with various situations. A leader takes into consideration various cues such as nature of patient, age of nurses etc. According to Hersey and Blanchard, this model focuses on willingness of the employees to go with what the leader decides depending on the prevailing situation. Its end result can be positive if the rest of the employees pull up together to contain the situation together Hersey.et al (2008). This model is very key more so when handling patients or even nurses of various age groups who might be under pressure due to workload pressures or nature of sickness respectively. If employees are willing to follow, the leader ensures that he/she issues clear directions and instructions whereas if employees are reluctant to follow the leader, the leader needs to be reliably supportive and participative. In this, different situations arising from the workplace call for different characteristics of an individual, Hemphill 1949.

Changingminds.org states that contingency theory is whereby a leader realizes that there are various prudent and best ways to lead and that a specific style may be effective in a particular situation but ineffective in another situation. It is dependent on the leaders preferred style of leadership, employees capabilities and behavioral patterns coupled with other situational factors. This theory calls for the leader to be in apposition to come up with a backup plan to tackle a certain situation especially when its an emergency issue. This theory comes in handy more so in emergency room situation in healthcare facilities when the lead doctor or practitioner is compelled to come up with an alternative measure or procedure when faced with an emergency whose initial procedure has failed to be effective or take effect. Though, this theory calls for the leader and employees to be sure of what they are doing as they are doomed to fail if the new measure or situation fails to click or work for them. This theory though quite similar with situational theory, it normally takes a broader view including various contingent factors about the leader in questions capabilities plus other situational variables.

Transactional theory, first described by Max Weber (1947) then Benard Bass (1981) means a style of leadership that mainly dwells in management processes of controls, structured organization coupled with short-term planning. In this, the leader in question motivates and shows the best direction to employees in an appealing manner. Authority is focused on the leader and employees normally follow his/her instructions. Performance goals and targets are normally achieved by employees through a reward system on employees who execute meted instructions to their best while those who are unable to perform tasks are reprimanded in the most humane way possible. Leaders who practice this are mainly particulate on set goals, detailed instructions and standard procedures. Such a theory comes in handy when set goals are to be achieved within a very short duration, targeted improved productivity and when cost-cutting measures need to be employed. This style comes in handy in healthcare so as to avoid pilferage and wastage of the expensive and limited resources in healthcare facilities. Though it can face a lot of resentment and face resistant from nurses, it all depends on the approach of the leader in disseminating instructions and directives. In the long run, efficiency is normally achieved through set routines and established standards.

According to Bernard M. Bass (1985), Transformational leadership theory entails motivational approach towards leadership. Employees have the zeal to always want to do their best when their leader motivates them. In this theory, emphasis is made through cooperation, prudent work ethics and high personal human values. Survivability is mostly ensured through set long term goals. This theory is very adaptive and can easily be tailored to suite most healthcare institutions hence also ensuring stability. Employees tend to give their all for the sake of the organization and place their personal interest after that. This type ensures that patients also draw motivation by how employees in a healthcare facility do their best to meet client needs. Leaders emphasize in transforming the thinking, values, personal aspirations, expectations and goals of employees. Proper communication is very key so as all desired effects may be implemented and affected.

Path goal leadership theory is focused on emphasizing specific leadership styles of the leader or his/her behaviors that easily suit the employees and workplace environment so as to meet desired set goals and targets (House, Mitchell, 1974). The purpose is to ensure employee motivation, personal empowerment and collective satisfaction of both employees and leaders. Best practice dictates that leaders ought to remove any obstacles that might hinder achievement of set goals. In this theory, appropriate rewarding measures can be implemented to employees who impress. Under this type of theory, there are four main aspects that are associated with it: achievement oriented leadership where despite setting tough goals, employees strive to meet them, directive leadership where different duties are assigned to various employees and support is given so as to achieve the desired expectations. Participative leadership where the leader plays a hands-on role and lastly supportive leadership whereby each employee offers a helping hand to each other so as to meet the desired effects.

There is also leader-member exchange theory which evolved from vertical dyad linkage model. This model puts emphasis on the interaction and relationship between leaders and individual followers. In this, the leader offers certain benefits eg support, guidance while the leaders followers reciprocate by offering utmost cooperation, respect and rejuvenated effort to a specific task hence improving general performance within the workplace (Graen, G. B.; Novak, M. A.; Sommerkamp, P. (1982).). This model leads to creation of two groups of followers: in-groups-where the quality of exchanges between the leaders and followers is of high quality and out-groups-where there is low quality of interaction between the leader and his/her set of followers.

Functional leadership theory mainly dwells in the behaviors of a particular leader needed to ensure that the effectiveness of an organization or a firm (Hackman & Walton, 1986; McGrath, 1962; Adair, 1988; Kouzes & Posner, 1995). The leader takes care of all the needs of employees or workmates at all costs hence making them very effective in any undertaking that they are faced with. This may be crucial in healthcare settings especially in emergency rooms and health related epidemics where time and urgency is of crucial importance so as to contain a situation. If employees lack something, things can go bad or even out of hand and the main person who might take the flack might be the leader.

Summary

All in all, leadership calls for the ability to make use of and understand all innate talents of a leader in order to maximize the strengths of your employees so as to accomplish the goals and mission of an institution. Leadership ought to be an expression of how humble, unique and talented a personality and be in their workplace (Katie Christy, founder, Activate your talent). Leaders ough...

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