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Why Transformational Leadership Belongs in Health Care

A recent webinar emphasized the importance of transformational leadership in health care as an essential precursor to achieving patient safety. It further outlined the key role transformational leadership has on patient outcomes and patient satisfaction.

After providing real examples of a wide range of transformation leaders (such as Martin Luther King Jr., Walt Disney, and Eleanor Roosevelt), the key attributes of transformational leaders were discussed, including: demonstrating a model of integrity and fairness, having high expectations for achieving goals, and encouraging and inspiring others. Overall key benefits of transformation leadership were highlighted that specifically benefit hospitals and health systems, such as: improved patient outcomes, improved staff satisfaction (resulting in less turnover), and improved organizational outcomes.

Significant Webinar Insights Included

  • Key attributes of transformational leadership and the impact for an organization committed to excellence
  • Information on developing a framework that promotes innovation and a culture of high reliability
  • Three outcome-focused strategies for nursing leaders designed to meet the existing challenges in today’s nursing workforce

View the webinar slides and recording

Aside from transformational leadership, also presented during the webinar was a high-level view of the four other types of leadership styles nurses are most familiar with: transactional, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire.

Key Initial Steps for Organizational Success

High-performing organizations recognize the importance of creating and sustaining a culture of high reliability. Aligned with the ongoing journey to high reliability, tactical next steps for organizational success were provided during the webinar, such as: taking initiative, aligning common goals and values, and creating a culture of learning.

On the journey to developing a culture of patient safety, Chassin and Loeb highlight the importance of strong and effective communication amongst healthcare workers, noting that “poor communication both within and between teams is a common condition in health care.” And that, “when caregivers come to expect poor communication, they become desensitized to its hazards.”

Prioritizing clear and transparent communication is a key initial and ongoing step for hospitals and health systems aiming to create a culture of high reliability, ideally fostered by transformational leaders.

Webinar Q&A Highlights

Q: As a new nurse leader in an organization with recent change and transformation, how would recommend keeping staff focused and motivated?

A: With the everchanging healthcare landscape, most healthcare workers have already experienced a great deal of change during their careers, and if they haven’t yet—they will at some point. It’s important to remind them of this fact, and to set the expectation that healthcare will most likely always be hit with constant change.

That being said, you can help lead with a positive influence and build a positive environment for their day-to-day practice. The more you can exercise transparency and keep your team in the know will help earn their trust, making them feel comfortable voicing concerns, raising questions, etc. When possible, consult with your team on decision-making to provide them with a level of autonomy, and be sure to celebrate even small gains and recognitions. Exercising trust, communication, and change management skills will go a long way in keeping staff focused and motivated during times of transformation.

Q: Is it possible for a different leadership style to adapt to the transformational leadership style?

A: While leading with the transformational leadership style does come more naturally to some than others, individuals can certainly take steps to incorporate those qualities and characteristics associated with transformational leaders into personal and professional development plans.

First completing some self-evaluation exercises and taking personal inventory of your current strengths, weaknesses, and natural leadership style will serve as a helpful starting point to determine what you need to learn/improve on the journey to transformational leadership.

Q: Does Relias offer tools for developing leadership skills?

A: As the national leader in holistic healthcare assessments, Relias Assessments empowers nurse managers to leverage assessments to make informed hiring and placement decisions thereby helping them achieve better long-term nurse success, satisfaction, and retention. Assessment data helps nurse managers identify developmental areas, continuously measure competencies, and cultivate future leaders.

Additionally, CE Direct (known for its reputation as the leading provider in continuing education) offers a wealth of knowledge to nurse managers on management and leadership education, including:

  • 100+ courses specific to management and leadership training for nurses, such as Developing Your Leadership Potential and Coaching: An Essential Skill for Nurses.
  • Certification Review courses on nursing’s most popular topics to help nurse managers self-prepare for certification exams, prepare for recertification, and earn CE hours while improving knowledge.
  • Focused CE Series on Nursing Preceptor Specialty Practice to maximize nurses’ knowledge in preceptoring. Topics include boundaries between preceptor and preceptee, critical thinking, time management, evaluation of competency, goal-writing, constructive feedback, patient/family engagement, HCAHPS, NDNQI, and more.

Transformational Leadership: Developing Leaders, Inspiring Employees, and Driving Change

Today’s healthcare leaders continuously face the challenge of meeting high expectations and adapting to change. Transformational leadership, the preferred management style of Magnet®-recognized hospitals, has been shown to transform entire teams to a higher level of practice. In this research brief, you'll learn: the benefits of transformational leadership, transformational vs. transactional leadership, and the four steps to becoming a transformational leader.

Download the research brief →

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