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What is your nursing leadership style?

The journey to becoming a leader in any industry can be a long one, but rewarding one. Many leaders receive their promotions due to longevity, education, or prior success but are unsure of how to rise to the new challenges in their positions. It makes one wonder what is the correct nursing leadership style to assume. One must first become aware of the difference between leadership and management.

The terms are used as synonyms but they are quite different, according to Fast Company. The publication defines managers as facilitators who ensure their subordinates are trained, happy and free of roadblocks. Leaders are those with particular talents who think “out of the box.” Think of leaders as mentors and you have the right idea.

As anyone in medicine knows, there is an array of effective leadership styles in nursing. The most effective style is often determined by the type of healthcare setting, the individual leader’s responsibilities and the type of chemistry that characterizes a particular team. Of course, a leader’s personality is a major driving factor as well.

Consider some of these leadership models defined by The Wall Street Journal to determine the best fit for the individual leader and his or her team:

Pacesetting leader: This style works best, in moderation, with a motivated, skilled team. Constantly running at full speed can be overwhelming for everyone. Catchphrase: “Do as I do.”

Authoritative leader: Setting a common vision and goal, and allowing the team members to develop the ways to achieve them are the hallmark of this style. It works best when team members are experts with more knowledge than their leader. Catchphrase: “Come with me.”

Affiliative leader: This “people-first” leadership is effective during times of high stress or when a team needs to rebuild trust. It’s not wise for leaders to use this style exclusively, because excessive nurturing can dull members’ motivation to excel. Catchphrase: “We’ll get through this together.”

Coach leader: A leader overseeing a team of motivated members who want to reach leadership levels themselves can use this style to build individuals’ skills. Beware, though: The leader needs to have a strong skill set and members willing to strive, or it will backfire. Catchphrase: “Try this.”

Coercive leader: Think of a police commander or U.S. Army sergeant barking out orders and you understand this style. Catchphrase: “Do it now, no questions asked.”

Democratic leader: A leader who builds consensus can be effective if fresh ideas are sought or if members must buy into a plan of action. Clearly, this style is not effective in a fast-paced setting or when members aren’t highly skilled or motivated. Catchphrase: “What’s your opinion?

Think about your role today, as well as the role you want to have in the future. What type of leadership style will be best?

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