The Importance of Leadership and Management in Healthcare Organizations

Table of contents


Leadership and management are essential to any healthcare organization. It is a requirement that such an organization is able to strike a balance between patient care, physicians, employees, and the organization. Nursing is a professional grounded in interpersonal relationships. It is a people- oriented profession that humanism runs at its core values. The behaviors, attitude, and mission of any health care organization start with its administration. This administration then summarizes what the sole purpose of the organization is. Strong administrative skills are a requirement for all nurses. They help them to demonstrate consistently superior performance and to deliver long- term benefits to all those involved. The critical understanding of leadership is that they do not strive to control others, but they seek to implement their visions by helping their employees to organize, control and plan their activities. This paper will provide a distinction between leadership and management. It will then move forward to explore on one leadership role in nursing. Further, the paper will discuss some of the challenges that leaders meet in their career.

Nursing Leadership and Management

The question on the distinction between a leader and a manager is sometimes a major

debate to many scholars. Both are two concepts in an organization that exist exclusively. The best distinction between the two involves looking at their nature and analyzing the different theories explaining them. This paper will draw a distinctive explanation of the two and then explore on an example of a leadership role, together with its challenges in nursing. The paper will also discuss ways that nurse leaders like CEOs can take to make their leadership effectiveness.

Difference Between Leadership and Management

Literature tries to differentiate between the two terms, but only a few of them provide a clear understanding. This paper defines leadership as a process where one or two persons intentionally exert an influence on others with an objective of guiding, structuring, and facilitating the activities together with relationships within an organization (Cox, 2016). On the other hand, Cox (2016) states that management is a process that encompasses planning and organizing staffs and resources with the intention of achieving objectives. A broader analysis of a distinction between right leadership and management can also come from the contemplated


Great Man Theory

This theory argues that great leaders are born but not made (Grossman & Valiga, 2013). This approach infers that people inherit leadership characteristics or traits. This assumption claimed that individuals who came from ‘great’ families had infused attributes of a leader (Scully, 2015). This theory’s assumption was that leadership belong to men who came from noble classes. Thus, taking a leadership role was a matter of genetic and social examination. The theory dismissed any thought that “working class” could be lead. It also rejected any belief that people can learn leadership skills or even women could become leaders. This argument gave examples of great leaders like Napoleon, Nelson, and Churchill among others. However, this theory lost credibility after some significant changes in the development of western society

(Murray, 2017). In particular, the argument could not explain how women start becoming leaders. Further, the world war one saw leaders coming from any stratum of society. Trait Theories

This theory suggests that identifying the distinguishing characteristics of successful leaders can give clues about leadership (Scully, 2015). It is more of a constitutional approach, where part of the assumption is that the society can identify great leaders by just looking at their characters. Some past studies did affirm this theory, but they did not find universal qualities among the leaders (Murray, 2017). Another rationale is that success traits differ depending on the situation that a leader meets. Further, no one can possess all the qualities. Situational Theories

The situational theory defines leadership a leader’s response to specific outcomes that differ in their internal and external forces (Scully, 2015). The theory believes that an accurate definition of leadership must consider particular situational context. The central concept is that it is the situations that determine what a leader does and how they behave (Murray, 2017). Therefore, situation theory explains leadership regarding the environment that surrounds it. Theorist supporting this idea prioritize on critical factors within the environmental situation and their impacts on the leader’s behavior. These factors can be the organization size, task complexity, worker maturity, or other critical contingencies conditions. Contemporary Theories

This theory explains that effective leadership depends partly on the leader’s personalities, the situation at hand, and the response of the followers (Murray, 2017). This theory advises that there can be no leader where there are no followers. Effective leadership takes into consideration the needs of the followers, their sense of ownership, potential, and goals. Further, the theory explains that leadership involves other elements such as planning, communication, managing conflict, effecting change and facilitation of developments (Grossman & Valiga, 2013). Despite numerous researchers seeking to explain the concept of leadership, no single theory exhaustively outlines it. Therefore, the best explanation will attempt to combine the interpretation of different opinions to draw up one ultimate conclusion.

Nursing Leader

One nursing leader from my experience is the CEO. This leader is the president of a healthcare organization. Nurses in these positions have extreme experience and education. They demonstrate the abilities to lead an entire care delivery organization or a hospital. The CEO has ultimate responsibilities for an extended list of duties such as patient care, clinical procedure, finances, and setting operational standards among others.

Nursing CEO Leadership Styles

Leadership styles are ways in which a person utilizes power while leading others. Nursing CEOs can have different leadership styles depending on their followers. However, the most common styles are the authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire.


A CEO with this style will be making all strategic decisions and will never consult other staff members (American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination [AANAC], 2014). A leader who uses this style also may impose a punitive environment. Another characteristic of such leaders is that they withhold vital information from their employees so that they can maintain their power (Cox, 2016). Many people do not take this style well, and it often causes disputes among the leader and the employees. (Murray, 2017). However, this technique is beneficial in times of an emergency or when working with unskilled employees.


With this style, a democratic leader encourages the team to speak up their concern and to participate in the decision-making process (AANAC, 2014). The encouragement of the team’s communication gives everyone a sense of belonging since the leader recognizes their views. A democratic leader will focus on the everything that goes on within the organization having in mind that anything unattended can influence adverse situations (Cox, 2016). Such a leader gives the employees personal responsibilities and the employees take their accountability in reaching their targets (Murray, 2017). After finishing a task, the leader provides them with feedbacks regarding their performance, an opportunity that allows them to grow professionally. This leadership style focuses more on improving the quality of the systems and processes instead of finding errors that employees make.

Laissez-Faire/Free Rein

Leaders who use this style does not engage deep supervisions. It is a style where leaders choose to take their hands-off approach to the organization’s daily operations (AANAC, 2014). This leadership approach lets employees undertake their delegations in good faith. The leader

believes that demonstrating that they trust their employees would encourage them to take their responsibilities in good faith (Cox, 2016). While this style facilitates independent thinking,

sometimes it may give rise to negative consequences (Murray, 2017). For instance, not all employees’ decision would be viable. Also, changes take longer to accomplish. Quality improvements take place when situations demand it. However, this style is extremely beneficial

to a situation where the CEO or a leader is new or inexperienced.

Changes in CEOs Management Could Make Them Better Leaders

The primary goal of leadership is to accomplish a collective purpose. Leadership plays a critical factor in the success of significant organization’s initiatives. Currently, the demands in the healthcare sector require the CEO to implement some significant changes so that he or she can remain adequate for the job. One of these changes involves creating and maintaining trust (Murray, 2017). The CEO or any other nurse leader needs to develop trust with the team so that both can believe in each other and work with one another’s interests at heart.

Another major change is the involvement of other nurses and employees in the work plan and the decision-making process (Murray, 2017). Involving other staffs and incorporating their views provides everyone with a sense of belonging. Another essential feature in the organization is the ability to transfer knowledge throughout the organization. Such a practice will not only make processes efficient, but it will also facilitate smooth succession when the need comes. Challenges Facing Nursing Leaders Today in The Healthcare Setting

The current health care environment is changing hence providing nurses with different problems. Some of the significant changes affect the leaders’ skills, succession, and planning.

All nurse leaders need strong leadership skills to meet the demands of the current changing environment in the healthcare systems (Cox, 2016). The leaders require skills to embrace technology as one of the significant tools for the advancement of the computational approaches as well as the simulation techniques emerging in the nursing research (Murray, 2017). Nursing leaders will also need to facilitate nursing informatics to promote the nursing practice, education, and research within the healthcare system. Besides, the current nursing demands require leaders to demonstrate qualities such as accountability, interpersonal skills, mentoring and flexibility. Budgetary Restriction

In many states, health care systems receive most of their funding from the government. All government funded systems have a strict fixed budget that forces these systems to result in health-care rationing (Ganz et al., 2012). Working on a limited budget can have a significant impact on nurse leaders’ performance. Some of the affected areas can be a limited environment for the provision of quality and standard care. Budgetary restrictions also lead to long waiting

times for patient to access secondary care (Ganz et al., 2012). For instance, referral-to-treatment time may take longer despite their urgency.

Succession Planning

Many healthcare organizations lack an adequate leaders’ replacement policy (Cox, 2016). Lack of such plans or strategies leads an organization to suffer reduced productivity when key officials leave (Ganz et al., 2012). Nursing leaders focus on mentoring others and regularly having employees who are capable of performing different roles. They can achieve this by hiring highly qualified employees and should take considerable time while monitoring them.


Leadership is one of the essential skills in nursing administration. It is a critical process whereby a leader interacts with the staffs to exert a positive influence toward achieving the organization goals and tasks. A professional leader focuses on job satisfaction, commitment, and staff development. Such a leader motivates, inspires, and builds trust between the administration and the employees. Effective leadership is not mean. It shares power and decision-making roles, rewards the staffs for the quality of work and transfers knowledge to them as a preparation for their future leadership positions.

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