Unit 5 Topic 1: Strategic Leadership and Tactical Thinking

Unit 5 Topic 1: Strategic Leadership and Tactical Thinking
Remember, as a nurse you are a leader. You may not realize the part you have played in a leadership role, but you exercise elements of leadership each day in the decisions you make. Based on a review of the current literature, describe one leadership experience you have had in which you needed to think more strategically versus more tactically.
Unit 5 Topic 1: Strategic Leadership and Tactical Thinking


A leader is an individual that people follow willingly, while leadership is the act of influencing individuals to act in a desired manner. According to Al-Dossary (2017), nurses experience challenging situations daily that require them to think critically as leaders and make strategic and tactical plans that may impact their co-workers or patients. Chappell (2019) argues that strategic thinking is long term planning to attain a vision or avoid problems, while tactical thinking is short term planning used to solve problems. Nurses require both tactical and strategic thinking skills.

My experience was while working as a theatre nurse manager. I was assisting in a surgical procedure as a scrub nurse when one of the electric cords of the equipment got damaged and this caused overheating eventually leading to a fire outbreak. The patient was already unconscious and on medical gases including oxygen that supports combustion and this doubled the rate at which the fire spread. Tactical interventions done were turning off all the sources of the medical gases and vacating the patient while manually bagging him to the next unoccupied theatre.

This situation despite being solved by tactical thinking, strategic thinking was more important and necessary to avoid occurrence of such an incidence in the future. This is because such an incidence is a threat to many lives and when poorly handled can cause death. The strategic plans which I put in place as the leader of the unit were introduction of daily checklist of all electric equipment and safe handling. Fire extinguishers were also bought and the staff trained how to operate them.

Tactical and strategic thinking go hand in hand. Proper strategic thinking and planning reduces the need for frequent tactical thinking in an attempt to solve problems. According to Wong (2015), tactical planning acts as a path that leads to strategic planning. Proper use of these skills improves the outcome of the patients under the care of the nurse.


 Al-Dossary, R. (2017). Leadership in Nursing. Contemporary Leadership Challenges, 32(2). 152-158.

 Chappell, K., & Richards, K. (2019). New Graduate Nurses. New Graduate Nurse Transition Programs, and Clinical Leadership Skill, 31(3),128-137.

Wong, C. A. (2015). Connecting nursing leadership and patient outcomes: State of the science. Journal of Nursing Management. 23(3), 275-278.