Types of leadership styles in nursing

Types of leadership styles in nursing

Are you asking, “What are the different leadership styles in nursing?” Did you know that there are numerous leadership styles in the nursing profession? This article will assist you, as an aspiring or current nurse, in understanding the various leadership styles in nursing, the significance of developing a leadership style as a nurse leader, and the pros and cons of each.

What Is a Nursing Leadership Style?

Leadership styles in nursing refer to the personality and behavior of a nurse leader when managing and directing nurses in a healthcare setting. Depending on their preferences, nurse leaders can employ one or a combination of two leadership styles in nursing to manage, direct, guide, and motivate their teams to achieve their goals.

Importance of Leadership Development in Nursing

There are numerous factors why nursing leadership styles must be developed. It may take some time for nurse leaders to learn and establish their leadership styles in nursing. However, once they have mastered their leadership styles in nursing and discovered what motivates their teams to achieve more, nurse leaders do whatever it takes to improve patient outcomes and build the institution’s reputation.

The following characteristics make a leadership style advantageous in nursing.

The various leadership styles in nursing encourage the continuous development of the nursing staff’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in order to enhance the quality of patient care, safety, compassion, and patient experience.
A team of nurses working under nurse leaders who have developed leadership and management strategies in nursing is aware of what to expect from their leaders and what is expected of them. Thus, the norms of performance and delivery are high.
Developing leadership styles in nursing is a means to hold yourself accountable for the role and demonstrate your dedication and commitment to the success of your team.
It aids in fostering cooperation between the nurse leader and nurses. When the nursing team recognizes a collaborative environment in which they can participate in decision-making, nurse administrators can become more democratic leaders.
Leadership in nursing has a direct impact on the progression and efficiency of healthcare units. It impacts the efficacy of an organization and the quality of care they provide to patients. A patient must believe they can depend on their healthcare providers. This is the result of having qualified nurse leaders in position.
In a hospital setting, the various leadership styles in nursing frequently motivate, encourage, and reward innovation and introduce novel methods of working. If nurse managers recognize that their teams exerted extra effort, they are promoted on the basis of their excellent behavior.
The various leadership styles in nursing contribute to team cohesion, stress reduction, and self-efficacy because the employees are happier, thereby fostering an environment conducive to safe and effective patient care.

Different methods of leadership in nursing

Style of Autocratic Leadership

Those in authority use the autocratic leadership style, also known as the Authoritarian style. This occurs when the leader exerts strong control over the situations and actions of those they lead and dictates them. In this style of leadership, rules and processes are clearly separated. The contribution of team members is minimal to nonexistent. This type of leadership style can be effective when employed correctly by a nurse manager.


In certain situations, such as when important decisions must be made quickly and without consulting others, nurse leaders must independently make difficult decisions based on their own judgment and ideas. Communicate and implement a strategy with unwavering concentration.
A distinct chain of command exists. The nurse teams are expected to follow their superiors’ instructions without question.


Those who are being led may feel as though they are being denied the opportunity to express themselves and provide input regarding the hospital’s and patients’ welfare. This may result in low productivity, as the team may not have a voice even when they have problem-solving ideas.
The authoritative nature of autocratic leaders discourages their subordinates from communicating openly. This inevitably breeds mistrust and lowers the morale of the discontented team.

Nurse Gabelmann is the head nurse at a children’s facility. She establishes very rigid and stringent guidelines for the operation of the pediatric nursing department. Some children with breathing difficulties brought on by the school fire are committed to the hospital for extended stays. This means that the nurses will have opportunities to form stronger relationships with their patients. Because staff nurses interact closely with patients on a daily basis, they should have a greater say in the development of care plans. However, as a result of her autocratic leadership style, Nurse Gabelmann disregards the opinions of the nursing staff. Instead of considering their responses, she constructs and assigns nursing care plans.

Laissez-faire leadership approaches

The laissez-faire leadership style is exemplified by a nurse manager who allows their team considerable autonomy. While encouraging creativity and inventiveness, they typically provide minimal supervision and no direction. This is one of the leadership styles in nursing frequently exhibited by inexperienced nurse executives.


In hospice environments and home healthcare, where nurses can operate independently, laissez-faire styles of nursing leadership are effective. These leadership styles in nursing enable each team member to assume responsibility, be creative, and do what is best for their success. This is because they lack a nurse leader who dictates the strategy for achieving the end objective.


Since the team receives little guidance and direction, they may lack clarification regarding their roles and responsibilities. This primarily occurs with nurses who require additional guidance. They do not perform well with nurse leaders who are uninvolved.
Since every nurse is focused on achieving their own objectives, a high level of independence can lead to isolation and hinder team-building opportunities.

As a nurse leader, if you are comfortable delegating roles and responsibilities and allowing others to develop, you may be able to achieve this leadership style. To implement the laissez-faire style of leadership, you must be able to recognize when to be proactive in advocating for patients and staff.

Style of Democratic Leadership

In professional nursing, the democratic style is one of the most prevalent forms of leadership styles. It focuses primarily on increasing all team members’ participation in decision-making and process development. Typically, the democratic style of leadership in nursing promotes personal and professional development. It promotes impartiality through the open discussion of issues, the contribution of ideas and solutions, and the voting on outcomes.


These leadership styles in nursing are effective in roles involving performance enhancement, quality assurance, diversity, and inclusion. This is because roles, expectations, responsibilities, job security, and outcomes are clearly defined. There is no favoritism in the equation.
In democratic leadership styles in professional nursing, every individual is treated with decency and respect. This style is typically employed to elucidate roles and responsibilities within strict time constraints and urgent situations.


Rapid decision-making may be more difficult because the decision-making process requires input from everyone.

Style of Transactional Leadership

In transactional leadership styles in nursing, those being led may dread making errors out of concern for their long-term relationship with the leader. Because there are consequences for failing, this may prevent nurses from achieving their maximum potential.

The leader of transactional nurses may award financial prizes to nurses who complete weekly report compilation before the deadline.

Style of transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is one of the prevalent leadership styles in nursing, wherein the nurse leader serves as a role model, develops positive relationships, motivates, and aims to transform the team through the power of attitude and intellectual stimulation. Transformational leaders are ardent and charismatic and are intent on influencing the growth and transformation of their teams.


There is a focus on innovation and investigating novel means of achieving objectives. The transformational leader assists the team in identifying its strengths and weaknesses and realizing that each member works to his or her individual potential.
Transformational leadership styles in nursing enable nurses to feel connected to the hospital or to their patients.


It emphasizes development, and change may result in team exhaustion. Consequently, nurse leaders may use charisma for self-promotion to manipulate this leadership style for their own benefit.

Style of Bureaucratic Leadership

In nursing, bureaucratic leadership styles are characterized by a clearly defined chain of command, adherence to rules, and stringent regulations. To influence team members, nurse leaders who employ this style of leadership rely on their hierarchical position of roles. This leadership and management style in nursing is characterized by an organizational structure with measurable performance expectations and standards for each employee.


By streamlining processes and bringing order to systems and procedures, the bureaucratic leadership styles in nursing aid in minimizing misunderstandings. Management is simplified, and processes become less disorganized. The majority of bureaucratic leaders implement a division of labor with clearly defined roles.


Since there is a high level of job specialization in this leadership style for nurses, many employees may feel that their ability to exercise independent thought, innovation, and creativity is stifled.

Styles of servant leadership

One of the acknowledged leadership styles in nursing that emphasizes service is servant leadership. Leaders in nursing who are servants prioritize the requirements of their teams and the patients they serve. A servant nurse leader equips team members with the knowledge, resources, and interpersonal connections they need to perform their duties and achieve their objectives. Additionally, they endeavor to include their teams in decision-making processes.


A servant leader creates environments focused on achieving goals and promotes diversity in teams and environments. Because they are empathetic and patient, these leadership styles in nursing work well with inexperienced nurses.


Adopting these types of leadership styles in nursing could be problematic in times of crisis due to the lengthy decision-making process. Additionally, the nursing staff may be given more responsibilities than they can manage, resulting in stress.

How to Determine Which Leadership Styles Are Right for You in Nursing

According to this article, there are seven distinct leadership approaches in nursing. Assuming you are a nurse leader or aspiring nurse leader, you may be curious about which leadership and management styles in nursing best suit you. You can determine which of the various leadership styles in nursing is best for you by evaluating your strengths and deficiencies, understanding your personality traits, and learning what you value most in your personal and professional life. Do you need your copy? Order now!

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