Leadership Styles in Nursing


With the rapid development of health care and management, the definitions of both leadership and nursing have evolved into holistic concepts that encourage participation, innovation, and creativity. As Mondini et al. (2020) state, “the nurse, as coordinator of the nursing team, performs multiple activities, including being the leader” (p. 2). Indeed, the idea of nurses as plain task executors and mediators between physicians and patients is not generally frowned upon in the professional community. In order to promote the significance and positive outcomes of leadership, it is of paramount importance for nurses to critically evaluate their role in the clinical setting, along with defining their strengths and areas for improvement as leaders. The goal of this presentation is to dwell on the notion of effective leadership in the clinical community as well as to address the self-evaluation of leadership traits.

Leadership Style Summary

Over the years of my career in nursing, I have discovered the importance of participative leadership that allows everyone to voice their ideas and concerns. Empathy and collaboration are especially relevant in the case of nursing, as, for many years, nurses have been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the discussion of community health. Hence, the traits and practices common for such a participative approach include compassion, active listening, critical thinking, acceptance, and respect for followers. While this type of leadership is beneficial for the professional ecosystem, I recognize that in some cases, I exercise leadership too democratic and participative to follow because I am avoidant of potential conflicts and uncomfortable situations. For this reason, it is of paramount importance to embrace reactive approaches as a healthy alternative to servant leadership. Otherwise, the leader may lose authority and create an image of a “pushover.”

Leadership and Self-Awareness

The ability to assess critically one’s strengths and weaknesses are currently known as the quality of self-awareness. However, while many leaders consider themselves self-aware because they can reflect on their actions, the true meaning of self-awareness is combining the perception of self and the image perceived by the team. Indeed, according to Eurich (2018), there are two fundamental types of self-awareness: internal and external. While the former stands for how one acknowledges personal values and beliefs, the latter is about presenting these beliefs and values in the way accepted by others, especially when it comes to the leader’s followers. The inability to account for both these aspects leads to a low self-awareness level, resulting in poor communication and the inability to make up for one’s mistakes in the long term.

Necessary Leadership Traits and Styles

Although there are many qualities a person requires to be a meaningful leader, the nursing leadership places compassion and empathy over authority, as taking care of patients, although not the only responsibility of the nurses, remains a prevalent one. Hence, besides assertiveness and good decision-making skills, nurses should adopt the pillars of servant leadership, including listening, appreciation, humility, trust, and caring (Luk, 2018). As a result, the styles embraced by a nursing leader should be built on the pillars of democracy and compassion. Democracy, in this case, stands for accounting for the thoughts of every team member when reaching a final decision, as a collaborative approach should still be regulated by a certain type of authority.

Communication Approaches

Communication is key for any kind of professional cooperation and balance in the workplace. However, while embracing a specific communication approach, the leader may fail to develop a reactive framework of mentorship and authority. For example, a communicator-harmonizer may eventually lose the qualities of the director. It means that in situations that require assertiveness, a leader may feel too afraid to hurt one’s feelings for the sake of the common good. On the contrary, the director’s communications strategies may lead to an excessive authoritarian approach and intimidation of the team. In the nursing paradigm, the perfect communication approach will serve as an umbrella for every strategy depending on the environment and the expectations of the team.

Servant Leadership: Significance & Benefits

The idea of servant leadership is the concept contrary to the general perception of leadership as a manifestation of power. According to VanBenschoten (2020), servant leadership is based on the premise of putting the needs of others above personal desires and opinions. Such a seemingly submissive approach to leadership aims at setting the example for the team and aspiring them to serve others rather than defending their interests. Servant leadership denies the conventional norms of hierarchy and defines leadership as a common phenomenon, where the role of a leader is to empower and coordinate rather than give orders. Undeniably, such an approach has a variety of benefits, including trust, loyalty, a positive environment, better ideas flow, and higher commitment levels.

Servant Leadership: Examples

Essentially, servant leadership is about creating an environment where leaders are capable of creating an environment where every person has the right to voice their opinions and concerns. Hence, the examples of servant leadership presuppose that once the leader is faced with a challenging decision, they feel obligated to resort to their team for advice and open discussion. In both examples provided, nursing leaders could have made the decision without conferring, yet such an authoritative approach would probably result in low morale and general discomfort in the team. Hence, the acknowledgment of personal strengths and weaknesses opens the path of self-improvement and meaningful mentorship for the whole team.


The profession of nursing is a field correlated closely with the idea of self-improvement and communication with others. For this reason, the conventional model of a “leader-follower” hierarchy does not work in the nursing team, where everyone is willing to contribute equally to the environment. In the process of self-evaluation, I have reached a conclusion that the challenge of nursing is to find a balance between confidence, trust in one’s team, and creating a reputation as a leader and mentor. Servant leadership built upon the principles of Christianity and compassion holds a promising future for nursing.


Douglas, E. (2020). The four leadership styles. Web.

Eurich, T. (2018). What self-awareness really is (and how to cultivate it). Harvard Business Review. Web.

Luk, L. A. (2018). Assessment of a leadership enhancement program for nursing managers of an acute general hospital in Hong Kong. The Open Nursing Journal, 12, 133-141. Web.

Mondini, C. C. D. S. D., Cunha, I. C. K. O., Trettene, A. D. S., Fontes, C. M. B., Bachega, M. I., & Cintra, F. M. R. (2020). Authentic leadership among nursing professionals: Knowledge and profile. Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem, 73(4). Web.

VanBenschoten, B. (2020). How to be a servant leader and how to apply it. Web.

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