Leadership is often associated with the business world. However, it has been acknowledged that it is crucial in any field and in any aspect of people’s lives. Healthcare is one of the fields where leadership is essential, as it has a positive impact on patients’ healing process (Laschinger, Wong, Cummings and Grau, 2014).
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It is necessary to add that there is sufficient theoretical framework that can enable healthcare professionals to choose the most appropriate leadership style. Slavkin (2010) states that strict and rigid leadership styles are becoming less effective and modern healthcare professionals prefer transformational leadership styles. It is important to stress that contemporary researchers focus on emotional and personal aspects of leadership.
Thus, Laschinger et al. (2014, p. 7) note that resonant leadership is one of the most effective types of workplace empowerment. The researchers define resonant leadership as “a relationally focused leadership style” that includes “visionary, coaching, affiliative, and democratic approaches, whereas dissonant styles include pace setting and commanding” (Laschinger et al., 2014, p. 7).
The researchers stress that resonant leadership styles enable leaders to create the necessary atmosphere in the workplace and decrease the amount of nurse turnover, which is essential in the period of significant shortage in nursing professionals. It is noted that healthcare leaders facilitate lower incivility and greater job satisfaction, which positively affects patients’ wellbeing and quality of services provided.
Laschinger et al. (2014) note that relationships between healthcare leaders and the rest of the staff is of paramount importance for creating the value. Slavkin (2010) also notes that proper interpersonal relationships are crucial for creation of the appropriate atmosphere in the working place. The researcher provides brief insights into development of leadership approaches and states that command and control leadership styles are becoming less effective especially in healthcare setting.
Healthcare field is characterized by high pressure and significant workload. Clearly, additional stress in the form of rigid control and numerous commands forces many healthcare professionals less motivated and productive. This is especially true for nursing professionals who have to communicate with healthcare staff, patients and their relatives.
Many nurses do not handle the pressure and there is a high rate of turnover. The researcher emphasizes that effective leaders have to be more attentive to needs and expectations of the staff. It is also stated that relationally loaded leadership is important for detecting and sharing values. Notably, the researcher pays special attention to the fact that leadership will become more creative, interdisciplinary and will be characterized by “culturally diverse collaborations” (Slavkin, 2010, p. 40).
Hence, it is clear that interpersonal relationships, coaching and creation of rapport is seen as a potential framework for development of the leadership in the future healthcare leadership. Again, the researcher stresses that such type of leadership will make the healthcare staff feel more empowered and motivated to address the needs of patients.
It is also important to remember that healthcare professionals (especially nurses) will also be able to employ some leadership methods when working with patients.
Slavkin (2010) also adds that there are gaps in medical education as future healthcare professionals often lack for knowledge and skills concerning leadership. The researcher stresses that the gaps should be eliminated and medical schools include leadership in their curricula. This will enhance the quality of services provided.
Such relationally loaded leadership styles are associated with emotional intelligence. Delmatoff and Lazarus (2014) state that modern leaders should be emotionally and behaviorally intelligent. The researchers claim that effective leaders should choose the most appropriate styles based on their emotions and behaviors.
Thus, leaders should have emotional and behavioral self-awareness. They should also be able to be socially aware. In other words, they have to understand emotions and behavior, needs and expectations of people they lead. Delmatoff and Lazarus (2014, p. 245) argue that efficient leaders have to understand the value of using “emotionally and behaviorally intelligent style of leadership to ensure that their staff feel empowered and supported”.
The researchers add that the use of this type of leadership will help create the necessary atmosphere of trust and cooperation among the healthcare staff as well as between healthcare professionals and patients, which is crucial for effective treatment. It is also noted that healthcare staff need more training (in schools and in the working place). It can be beneficial to train the staff to make all the employees utilize the most appropriate leadership styles.
Fine, Golden, Hannam and Morra (2009) provide interesting insights into the use of relationally loaded leadership styles. The researchers argue that it is possible to make this style more effective when utilizing Lean approach. Lean methodology was developed in the terrain of industry but it applicable in any sphere of life.
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Professionals of Toyota developed the methodology, and successful implementation of the approach suggests that it can facilitate development of any industry or organization.
Fine et al. (2009) explain that the Lean approach is based on the idea of elimination of waste from the process of production and/or service delivery. Waste can be defined as any “non-value-added steps” (Fine et al., 2009, p. 26). The researchers argue that healthcare is “an ideal environment in which to reap the benefits of Lean” (Fine et al., 2009, p. 27). The researchers identify principles or steps in the Lean approach.
These are defining value, arranging by value stream, flowing, pulling and seeking perfection. In other words, healthcare leaders should understand what patients expect from them and what they need. Healthcare professionals have to make sure that these needs and expectations are met within minimum time and with maximum efficiency.
Fine et al. (2009) add that this approach is not researched in the field of healthcare and needs special attention. Researchers as well as practitioners should develop appropriate techniques to exploit Lean approach. In conclusion, it is necessary to note that researchers stress that modern healthcare leaders have to pay more attention to emotions and personal relationships.
At that, leaders should be aware of their emotions and behaviors as well as their colleagues’ and patients’ behavior and emotions. This will enable healthcare staff to provide high-quality services as the atmosphere in the working place will be characterized by trust and support. In its turn, this will positively affect patients’ healing process, as they will also be more cooperative and trustful.
Importantly, although there is significant load of research in the field of healthcare leadership, many healthcare professionals lack for the necessary knowledge and skills. Researchers note that the gap should be filled. This can be implemented through inclusion of leadership in medical schools’ curricula. Healthcare staff training will also be beneficial. Healthcare professionals should be aware of recent findings in the field to be able to choose the right leadership style and utilize it correctly.
Delmatoff, J., Lazarus, I.R. (2014). The most effective leadership style for the new landscape of healthcare. Journal of Healthcare Management, 59(4), 245-249.
Fine, B., Golden, B., Hannam, R., & Morra, D.J. (2009). Leading lean: A Canadian healthcare leader’s guide. Healthcare Quarterly, 12(3), 26-35.
Laschinger, H.K.S., Wong, C.A., Cummings, G.G., Grau, A.L. (2014). Resonant leadership and workplace environment: The value of positive organizational cultures in reducing workplace incivility. Nursing Economics, 32(1), 5-16.
Slavkin, H.C. (2010). Leadership for health care in the 21st century: A personal perspective. Journal of Healthcare Leadership, 2, 35-41.