Health and healthcare are facing a lot of challenges in Australia. As the largest contributor of healthcare delivery, nursing profession must adapt to sustain the health of communities. This combined with a looming nursing work force shortage, estimated by Health Workforce Australia to be about 85,000 by 2025 and 123,000 by 2030 (Health Workforce Australia, 2014), and health spending that is rising to unsustainable levels, means that transformation is essential if nursing is to continue to deliver high quality, accessible care to the people who need it at the right time and in the right place (Health Workforce Australia, 2014).Among the various types of leadership styles, transformational leadership has gained more popularity and attention, possibly due to its innovative productive, supportive and innovative nature (Shah et al. 2011). Research literature written on transformational leadership, has specified significant committed to the positive notion to impacts on employee motivation. Few authors have argued that transformational leadership style enhances employee motivations and increases their commitment to the organization. However, there can be limitations with transformational leadership associated primarily with communication styles. This essay will present both the strengths and limitations of transformational leadership for nurse practitioners in an aged care setting.According to Fischer 2016, transformational leadership has been defined as: ‘an integrative style of leadership as well as a set of competencies. Competencies essential to the transformational leader include emotional intelligence, communication, collaboration, coaching, and mentoring’. Transformational leadership style is identified by an enthusiastic, emotionally matured, visionary and courageous lifelong learner, who inspires and motivates, by empowering and developing followers. (Fischer 2016).Transformational leadership has gained more popularity and attention, of all the leadership styles mainly due to its innovative, constructive, productive and supportive nature (Shah et al. 2011). A vast amount of considerable literature on transformational leadership has identified significant positive impacts on employee motivation and an increased commitment to the organization (Shah et al. 2011). However, there can be limitations with transformational leadership associated primarily communication styles (Shah et al. 2011). This essay will present both the strengths and limitations of transformational leadership for nurse practitioners in a residential aged care facility (RACF). Transformational leadership has been defined as: ‘an incorporative leadership style with integrative set of competencies. The transformational leadership style is identified by an enthusiastic, visionary, emotionally mature and courageous lifelong learner whose motivation and inspiration empowers, encourages and develops the followers. The integrative competencies which include collaboration, communication, emotional intelligence, coaching and mentoring are important to the transformational leaders (Fischer 2016).According to the research literature, transformational leadership is significant with job satisfaction among the team, using an approach to improved team performance (Dust, Resick, & Mawritz, 2013). Transformational leadership is one of the most widely used and effective forms of leadership styles to maximise the performance of individuals and teams goals respectively (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013). In the health care sector, the significance of transformational leadership as it relates to organisational commitment, productivity, job satisfaction, and performance of clinicians and its impact on patient safety and outcomes are widely recognized (Lyder et al., 2012; McFadden, Henagan, & Gowen, 2009; Vogus, Sutcliffe, & Weick, 2010). In aged care however, transformational leaders within various organisations are capable of encouraging their team to strive for and achieve clearly focussed clinical compliance goals and clinical outcomes (Van Dierendonck, Stam, Boersma, deWindt, & Alkema, 2014). Positive interest in collaborative research have highlighted and emphasised that transformational leaders have the capability to manage nurses’ attrition and retain nurses by creating a positive work environment (Brewer et al., 2016). Unlike other leadership styles, transformational leadership is associated with positive patient outcomes such as low rates of mortality, improved health promotion and wellness, less medication errors, falls and infections (Wong, Cummings, & Ducharme, 2013). Researchers have also studied the role of transformational leadership in promoting the acceptance of the service and the practice of registered nurses (Casida, Crane, Walker, & Wargo, 2012). However, despite the fact that research indicates the critical value that transformational leadership has on maximizing the potential of advanced practice registered nurses practices (Kapu & Jones, 2016), little attention has been given to the importance of transformational leadership in promoting the practice of advanced practice registered nurses (Kapu & Jones, 2016).Transformational leadership is the most appropriate leadership style to describe a nurse practitioner’s leadership role, belief, nature and achievements. In a RACF, role of transformational leader is reflected in the day to day clinical nursing practice, in which a nurse practitioner fully participates in a responsible leadership role. In the aged care setting, this advanced practice role requires coordinating the residents’ care, for both the day and night shift and organising the team of nurses and support staff on duty. The nurse practitioner manages and exercise prompt action, inspiration, motivation and communication skills. This transformational leadership role requires a hard-working, dedicated, good communicator and a person with a strong personality that inspires other team members. Transformational leadership has problem solving skills, a remarkable wealth of knowledge and quality experience is required to excel in a transformational leadership role. Other leadership skills include, direction, managing, supervising, redirection, education and evaluation of the staff performance, and the provision of clinical nursing guidance. The smooth and successful operation of the shift, staff morale and managing difficult or challenging situations depends largely on the nurse practitioner’s transformational leadership skills. Transformational leadership is associated with job satisfaction among the followers and improved team performance (Braun, Peus, Weisweiler, & Frey, 2013; Dust, Resick, & Mawritz, 2013).According to Shah et al. 2011, transformational leadership is a style of leadership that involves leaders utilizing their experience, knowledge and experience in a proactively meaningful ways such as providing quality support advice and engaging with team members in friendly interaction and discussions (Shah et al. 2011). Transformational leaders use positive approach to change team values, goals, needs, identities, ambitions, priorities and involvements, with the aim of boosting their trust and confidence that would enable them to increase their performance and commitment to the organization. Through such social, responsive and pleasant attitudes, transformational leaders facilitate and encourage employees to effectively develop their skills, knowledge and experience in the organization (Shah et al. 2011).Transformational leadership is one of the effective leadership styles in healthcare that optimizes the organisational performance of an individual in a team and the overall team outcomes (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013; Piccolo et al., 2012). Transformational leaders are capable of encouraging their team members to strive for and achieve the common goal (Van Dierendonck, Stam, Boersma, deWindt, & Alkema, 2014). According to Casida & Parker (2011), the transformational leadership is performance of the leader beyond expectations, which is to be encouraged in nursing leadership styles. Transformational leaders use their skills in a charismatic, inspirational, and intellectually stimulated way, with absolute consideration for individuals that work within the team. The transformational leader leads their group by possessing self-confidence, self-direction, and tries to solve any conflicting issues. Transformational leaders in a RACF are proactive, working towards the objectives and achieving the targets by putting into use all the clinical skills learnt through experiences and further education. Nurse leaders in their day to day professional practice are faced with challenging duties and often use their leadership skills to facilitate best practice. The skills displayed by transformational leaders are quite significant in aged care nursing. The qualities and the strategies used by nurse managers who are transformational leaders make things run smoothly in the health care system. The idea of significant contribution of transformational leader in nursing was supported by Raey et al (2003). According to Reay et al. (2003), there are several leadership strategies used in day to day clinical practice, as part of the leadership role and in maintaining a good relation within the nursing team. Reay et al. (2003) proposed eight leadership strategies for nurse managers roles. These strategies include encouraging all nursing team members to organised themselves in relation to their role; making sure that nursing tasks are allocated; paying attention to all perspectives of the working relationships within the nursing team; facilitating positive relationships between team members; leading by good example and the right way of doing things; working with the team to develop goals that are not overly focused on the nurse leaders and, regularly sharing with other managers the experiences and lessons learned in from the nurse leaders. Transformational leaders attend to their duties with inspiration, promote fellow employee’s career development, attend to needs of others and motivate others through good practice and positivity, influencing others positively and encouraging others in their career development and creativity. With transformational leadership, nurses do achieve together depending on the approach of the leader and the attitude of the team members. It is paramount that the team members are involved in decision making and this could be seen as one of the strategies used to make things run smoothly in nurses day to day practice working with others, in order to achieve common goals. For the purpose of this essay, the limitations of transformational leadership was discussed, as the literature has indicated, transformation leadership was looked from conflict resolution, communication breakdown, job satisfaction, staff performance and team perceptions point of view. In the aged care setting, the success of the leader in a team depends on how the transformational leader can address the limitations and manage team members who are of the opinion that transformational leaders are controlling.Breakdown in communication skill can cause team members to misunderstand the positive thinking used by transformational leaders. Communication skill is very important in helping to improve the team members participation and in including them in the decision making process.
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