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Transformational Nursing Leadership: Lead, Inspire, Transform

Christina M. Collins

Delaware Technical Community College - Terry Campus

NUR 400 Nursing Leadership

April 22, 2018


Transformational Nursing Leadership: Lead, Inspire, Transform

Leadership within an organization is meant to drive the success of the company.

Leadership is many things, many people, and expressed in many ways, but one constant for

every organization: there are a mission, vision, and goals to attain safely and efficiently.

Leadership expert Warren Bennis said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into

reality” (Psychology Today, 2018). Today there are many leadership styles used, but the most

notable leadership style preferred within healthcare organizations (HCO) is transformational

leadership. Transformational leadership is preferred because it allows change to occur with little

resistance, which is essential in an industry that changes daily. Owen Doody and Catriona

Doody define transformational leadership as a process that motivates followers by appealing to

higher ideas and moral values where the leader has a deep set of internal values and ideas and is

persuasive at motivating followers to act in a way that sustains the greater good rather than their

own interests (as cited in Burns, 1978).

The basic idea of the nurse’s role as a transformational leader is that they must lead

others to meet the current and future needs of the HCO (Tinkhman, 2013). The nurse leader

must believe in the organization’s vision, be able to articulate the vision to others, and motivate

and inspire those around them to believe in the vision and work toward meeting the goals of the

vision. There are a few traits/characteristics that are important for a transformation nurse leader

to have: charisma, trustworthiness, effective communicator, be a role model, enthusiastic,

optimistic, inspirational, visible, appreciative, and promote teamwork.

Nurse leaders must be role models that the nursing staff seek to emulate (as cited in Hay,

2006). When nurse leaders are role models, their teams are less likely to resist change because

they trust, admire, and respect their leader (Doody & Doody, 2012). Transformational nurse

leaders inspire their team to fulfill the organizational goals, while at the same time achieving

their own goals. They encourage their team to be innovative, think outside of the box, to take a

risk, and use their resources to be a positive change agent within the organization. A

transformational nurse leader not only advocates for their patients, but they also advocate for

other nurses. Transformational leadership allows nurses to feel that their voice is heard, they are

part of a bigger plan, they feel their input is valued, and their nursing practices are supported.

Transformational nursing leadership leads to increased staff satisfaction, increased patient

satisfaction, and low staff turnover. It is a win-win situation all around because transformational

leadership advocates for staff and patients the same.

To become an effective transformational nursing leader the four I’s of transformational

leadership will be incorporated into an individualized plan. The four I’s are an individualized

consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence (Qarani,


Individualized consideration.

Strategies to incorporate into personalized management style are:

 Have open communication and actively listen when staff communicates

 Involve nursing staff in meetings

 Mentor or coach the team rather than be bossy

 Delegate work based on individual staff abilities

 Show compassion toward staff and how they are doing personally

 Give regular positive feedback and appraisals


Intellectual stimulation.

Strategies to encourage creativity are:

 Approach mistakes as learning opportunities

 Encourage staff to find new ways to problem solve

 Encourage and support further education

Idealised influence.

Be a role model by acting with integrity, responsibility, respectfully, and ethically. As a

role model, the nursing leader must behave how they would like their staff to behave. It is also

vital to appraise in public and criticize in private.

Inspirational motivation.

Strategies to guide, motivate, and inspire a nursing team is:

 Provide in-service training and education opportunities, which foster lifelong


 Engage staff in the vision, the purpose

 Celebrate successes

 Provide nursing staff with continuing online education (CE) opportunities at no


Utilizing the strategies from the four I’s, by default leads to better care at the bedside.

When nursing staff is happy, they believe in the vision and purpose of the organization, which

gives them the motivation to do a great job. When nursing staff is happy, they make fewer errors

because they care about how they perform their duties and there is an increased awareness of

patient outcomes related to the job they perform. In addition to creating a happy staff, care at the

bedside will improve if the nursing leader is available to help hands-on when needed, as well as

establishing a positive collaborative atmosphere between different medical personnel.

Transformational leadership empowers the nursing staff to speak when they thought they

were not allowed. This empowerment opens the doorway for individuals to communicate with

any medical personnel regarding patient safety and patient outcomes. Communication is key to

every working relationship. To maintain the actual workflow of the transformational leadership,

there can not be any gaps in the process or the outcomes will be negatively affected. Overall

transformational leadership in nursing is most liked because leadership can create future leaders

who can efficiently problem solve and meet the goals of the organizations mission, values, and

goals (Doody & Doody, 2012).



Burns, J. M. G. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

Doody, O. & Doody, C. M. (2012). Transformational leadership in nursing practice. British

Journal of Nursing, 21(20), 1212-1218.

Hay, I. (2006). Transformational leadership: Characteristics and criticisms. School of

Geography, Population and Environmental Management, Flinders University, Adelaide.

Retrieved from

Psychology Today. (2018). Leadership. Retrieved from

Qarani, W. M. (2017). Transformational leadership: A strategy towards staff motivation. i-

manager’s Journal of Nursing, 7(1), 9-15.

Tinkhman, M.R. (2013). The road to magnet: Encouraging transformational leadership. AORN

Journal, 98(2), 186-188. Doi:10.1016/j.aorn.2013.05.007