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Transformational Leadership in Nursing


A nurse is performing a routine checkup on an ill patient when the patient’s vital signs take a sudden dive. The nurse has seconds to make a crucial decision. Does the nurse summon a doctor? See who else is nearby? Take care of the situation directly? What are the repercussions if the nurse does the wrong thing? There’s a lot to consider in a short period of time, and the stakes are high.


In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, responding rapidly in this kind of situation is important. It’s the job of managers, administrators, and other leaders in healthcare facilities to properly train their staff to be able to handle critical situations. The style of leadership they develop, exemplify, and teach in their workplace can play a major role in determining how decisions of all kinds are made.


Transformational leadership in nursing is a powerful tool that empowers healthcare providers as they make tough decisions. Read on to learn more about transformational leadership, its place in healthcare and nursing, and the benefits it can have in the workplace.

What Is Transformational Leadership?

The traditional style of leadership is transactional. In this style of leadership, those in charge tell the people they manage what to do and how to do it, and employees comply. Transactional leadership relies on a system of rewards and punishments: If employees do a task the way their boss instructs, they’re rewarded. If they do it differently, they’re punished. The goal of transactional leadership is to maintain the status quo with a high level of supervision. That style of leadership may produce results in some environments but certainly not in all.


Transformational leadership is quite different from transactional leadership. Instead of giving direct orders to their employees, transformational leaders give them the tools and confidence to take charge and make decisions as necessary. A transformational leader’s goal is to create a workplace full of inspired, motivated, communicative professionals who take ownership of their work, have strong ethics, and demonstrate a commitment to the success of the whole.

Bringing Transformational Leadership to Nursing

While transformational leadership can apply in any number of professional fields, it’s especially useful in healthcare and nursing. No matter where they work, nurses work in teams –– with other nurses, doctors, technicians, nurse assistants, and more –– all with the goal of providing their patients with the highest quality of care. Facilitating clear communication and effective collaboration is a key goal for leaders in these settings. Transformational leadership in nursing aims to ensure everyone on the team understands the importance of his or her work and feels valued. This contributes to an environment where all employees are engaged and empowered. Nursing leaders make sure their charges can think critically about their roles, challenge conventions when appropriate, and maintain positive workplace momentum.

Benefits of Transformational Leadership in Nursing

Healthcare facilities that implement transformational leadership reap benefits in a number of areas. Patient care and satisfaction, employee satisfaction, greater efficiency, and lowered costs can all stem from the right style of leadership.

Improved Patient Care

High-quality patient care requires two things: experienced healthcare professionals and effective communication. Over time, transformational leadership can improve the way healthcare teams communicate. Better communication in healthcare settings means fewer misunderstandings, consistency across shifts, and overall improved patient care.

Higher Employee Satisfaction

When healthcare and nursing leaders empower their teams to take charge and make decisions, employees are often motivated and inspired. They’ll feel responsible for team and organizational successes, not just their paychecks. When employees are trusted and management reiterates their value through their leadership style, overall job satisfaction climbs.

Reducing Turnover

Happier employees who value their jobs are less likely to leave them. Nurses who have been at their place of employment longer and work well with the rest of the team are more effective caregivers. Reducing turnover allows leaders to build a team that is committed to the organization’s success and experienced with its unique protocols and mission.

Lowering Costs

Healthcare executives often prioritize providing quality care at the lowest possible cost. Transformational leadership can have a direct impact on the bottom line. Improved care reduces the likelihood of lawsuits and costly errors. Low employee turnover means less money wasted on training new employees or correcting their mistakes.

Become a Transformational Leader with Maryville University

Healthcare managers and administrators should strive to be transformational leaders, giving their nursing staff the confidence to make decisions. As a result, they can improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and boost morale. Transformational leadership in nursing has the potential to have a huge impact on both employees and their patients. Discover how Maryville University’s MSN nursing online program can equip you with the skills to lead and create lasting change.


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