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Leadership in Nursing: Perspective of Movie ‘Invictus’ Essay

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Updated: May 3rd, 2022


Leadership involves the ability to influence the behavior of others (Carver & Candela 2008). Leadership is acquired through observation as well as practice. It may also be acquired as a result of experience. Influences brought about by leadership include the sharing of visions, motivation as well as acts of encouragement. A leader must therefore be able to win the hearts of their subjects to be able to influence their practices and to gain the support of the people in the organization. This way, the leader can influence the direction of the entire organization with minimal resistance from the members.

Nursing on the other hand is a profession within the public health sector charged with the responsibility of caring for individuals as well as families and the society at large (Chang & Daly 2008). The primary responsibility of nurses is to attain and maintain optimal health in the community. Their value for life as well as their emphasis on the quality of life occasionally brings about quick recovery among patients. The responsibilities of the nurses however vary as a result of their education levels as well as the level of specialisation. Nurses are today involved in activities such as prevention and diagnosis of illnesses and by so doing, improving the health of the community at large.

The author of this paper seeks identify and analyze leadership, knowledge, skills, and behaviors as displayed in the movie ‘Invictus’. The writer further relates these qualities to various leadership theories. The author will explain how the leadership theories, skills, knowledge, and behaviors influence culture in a given organization. The effects of these elements are also discussed as well as their impacts on the nurse as well as the patient’s outcomes.

Leadership Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours in Invictus in Relation to Leadership Theories

The movie has been used by many people around the world as a source of inspiration and from where individuals can draw leadership qualities. These leadership skills have been displayed in the possibility of bringing about peace through a sport, rugby. The movie features Nelson Mandela as a crafty leader who unites his country against the Apartheid regime (Clint 2009). A rugby match is used to bring about unity whereby South Africans come out in large numbers to support the Springbok team regardless of their skin colour (Clint 2009). Great leadership skills and behaviours are portrayed in this movie and various leadership theories can be used to justify the manner in which these qualities have been used and their applicability in the field of nursing. This is to bring about effective leadership as well as to ensure desirable outcomes for the nurses, the patients and for the good of the entire society (Marquis & Huston 2009).

A variety of leadership theories are used in the analysis of these leadership qualities in relation to the health sector with more emphasis on nursing. The leadership theories represent lines of thoughts by various philosophers and great writers who attempt to explain leadership from their own understanding (Prentice & Rabey 2009). The various theories used in this paper are a collection of some of the most popular and most widely applied theories in assessing the ability and the qualities of leaders.

One of the most important leadership qualities exhibited in the movie include the ability to be future oriented. A good leader makes decisions likely to have favourable long-term effects on their organisations. This way, they guarantee the survival of their organisations by making sound decisions that are beneficial. Though the decision is likely to cause some friction at the beginning, the leader focuses on the long term effects of the decision (Sullivan & Decker 2005).

A leader is also a craftsperson. Good leaders should have the ability to come up with decisions that can address technical issues in organisations. A good leader should lead and spearhead the operations of their organisations through drastic changes. This means that the leaders have the ability to assess internal and external situations of their organisations and take the necessary measures to prevent problems from occurring.

The situational leadership theory states that it is the situation in hand that defines the traits required in a leader. The theory suggests that different kinds of leaders will rise depending on the nature of the situation they are expected to address (Seren & Baykal 2007). In the movie Invictus, Nelson Mandela is able to identify rugby as the best possible unifying factor for his country. In the same way, a nurse in a leadership position should be intelligent and crafty enough to deal with the numerous problems they are likely to face as they address various health issues in the society. A nurse in a leadership position should be able to identify possible repercussions of their decisions and put in place appropriate measures in the event that there is a deviation of norms. The nurse leader should be aware of the criticality of their profession and should thus strive to prevent the occurrence of fatalities. Value for human life must therefore be upheld at whatever cost.

The contingency leadership theory suggests that there is no appropriate style of going about a particular activity. Leaders should device different inputs for different circumstances. This can only be achieved if the leaders have several backup plans as to provide a ready solution for any inefficiency likely to occur. In the movie Invictus, Nelson Mandela makes elaborate plans to effectively bring about peace in his country. On identifying a possible means of unification through a rugby match, he goes ahead and lays down plans which include meeting with Pienaar who is the Springboks coach (Clint 2009). This is prior to the match. He also organises forums where the white dominated team gets to interact with the Blacks.

A good nurse leader should also be a fitter. This means that he or she should be able to interact with individuals from various walks of life. This way, the leader will be able to accommodate others and in the process, get the support of the majority in an organization (Tomey 2009). According to contemporary theories of leadership, a leader should be able to build capacity and sustainability within their team. A good nursing leader should therefore be able to lead their teams towards success even at difficult times as well as easily get assimilated in the trends prevailing in the environment. Likewise, Nelson Mandela- in spite of being black- is able to fit in the company of both the Blacks and the Whites (Clint 2009).

A nurse leader should be reflective. This is the leader’s ability to predict future occurrences basing their reasoning on past events. This means that the leader should be visionary and is expected to be knowledgeable on the trends likely to be observed in their area of operation (Wooten & Crane 2003). According to the transformational leadership theory, a leader should be able to envision future occurrences based on the current performance of an organisation. By virtue of observation, Nelson Mandela was able to recognise the major cause of disunity among his people and immediately came up with ideas on how to change the situation.

Influence of Leadership Theories, Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours on Organisational Culture

Organisational culture refers to a set of values, beliefs and perceptions held by individuals in a particular organisation. It is the organisation’s culture which influences the conduct of individuals. It also defines the mode, means and procedures of undertaking certain activities in a particular organisation (Kouzes & Posner 2007). The culture of an organisation also defines the attributes that makes the organisation to be unique and different from others. It is noted that just as individuals are different from each other, organisations do vary depending on the nature of their operations and the individuals operating therein. The individuals are operating in accordance with the organisational culture. This means that it is the culture in the organisation that sets it apart from others.

In the field of nursing, there exist traditions and standard procedures of operation that defines the manner in which the nurses conduct themselves as they go on with their day to day activities (Marquis & Huston 2009). It is therefore the responsibility of those in leadership positions to ensure that the behaviour and conduct of individuals provide an environment that is conducive for others such as the patients and the society at large. The conduct of the individual should be geared towards the improvement of the organisation’s performance. It should also be geared towards the benefits of the stakeholders in the organisation. This includes patients, nurses, doctors and shareholders.

Among the most important organisational cultures is the culture of ambition. To keep this culture alive among individuals in an organisation, the leaders must be future oriented and should be able to set realistic and achievable goals on behalf of the organisation (Marriner 2009). According to the transactional leadership theory, leaders should be future oriented. A nurse leader will thus strive to maintain the spirit and ambition in the organisation they are working in so as to improve performance.

The culture of reaction refers to collective measures usually taken by an organisation to deal with various situations likely to influence the performance its performance. A nurse in a leadership position should therefore be creative enough and should have the ability to devise measures to deal with situations arising in their line of duty (Sarros 2009). The nature of their work calls for error free operations. As such, various measures should be put in place to deal with a particular situation in the event that the other plans are not effective enough. This is as stipulated in the contingency leadership theory which states that leaders should have more than one approach to a particular situation to strengthen the organisation’s reaction culture.

The culture of success is also important to an organisation and should be maintained so as to increase the faith of people in the organisation. To maintain success in an organisation, a nurse leader should be a ‘fixer’ able to device ways to deal with factors affecting their organisations. According to the situational leadership theory, a leader should be able to deal with different situations differently to ensure the success of their organisations (Manley 2004).

Impacts of Leadership, Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours on Nurses’ and Patients’ Outcomes

The abilities, skills and competencies of a nursing leader are of great impact on the overall performance of other subordinate nurses as well as the welfare of the patients and the society at large. A future oriented leader will for example be able to make decisions likely to influence the performance of their organisations positively over long periods of time (Wooten & Crane 2003). Their policies will thus serve as guidelines as to what and how things should be done.

Being a ‘fitter’ strengthens the relationship between the leader and those nurses working in subordinate positions. This improves the working climate and all individuals in the organisation feel that they belong and that their presence and contribution in the running of the organisation is acknowledged and appreciated. A ‘fitter’ does not necessarily have to change the state of affairs in the organisations. They would rather strive to get themselves assimilated into the current system operating in an organisation. This can be exhibited in the movie where Nelson Mandela, in spite of his position as the leader of the entire South African nation, prefers diplomacy rather than imposing policies on the people (Tomey 2009). It is noted that as a leader, Nelson Mandela had the option of forcing things on the people. However, he opted to include everyone in the decisions he was making. He never made efforts to force members of the black community to interact with their white counterparts. Neither did he force the Springbok players who were dominantly white to interact with the blacks.

The ability of the nursing leader also has a great impact on the patients’ outcomes. Policies formulated affect the entire organisation, including the patients who visit the institution to seek medical assistance. A good nursing leader will encourage their team to provide maximum care to the patients. This includes medical interventions, caring, encouragement as well as ensuring they are comfortable. Being closer to the patients than any other medical practitioner, a nurse has a greater influence on their recovery (Pinkerton 2006). The nursing leader should also see into it that relatives, families and friends of the patient are well catered for during their visits. They should also be provided with encouragement. It is only through commitment to their work that the hospitals can function efficiently and fulfil the responsibility for which they were set up, the responsibility of is saving lives.


Leadership is an art rather than a science whereby good leaders are judged by virtue of their activities and their abilities to influence the behaviour of others. This is in the formation of strong associations that ultimately lead to powerful organisations. Invictus can be viewed by many as just an ordinary movie. But critics and analysts can draw a variety of leadership lessons and skills from it. The movie thus acts as a source of inspiration for people from many walks of life. In this essay, the author analysed the various lessons that leaders in the nursing profession can draw from the movie Invictus. This was analysed in context of the various leadership theories that apply to the nursing profession.


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