Leadership and nurse retention: The pivotal role of nurse leaders

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1 September 2015

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The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education in collaboration with the CITATION Thu12 l 1033 (Thurston, 2012)organized a working sectional conference titled Effective Mentoring; Nursing Leadership Practices after Training Completion and development skills for charge nurses. Over 40 experienced professionals from major statewide stakeholders in the Healthcare industry were brought together during this session. Those in attendance included nurses from various practice sessions and representatives from the Department of Higher Education, the Board of Registration in Nursing, the Massachusetts Center for Nursing (MCN), the Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing (MACN), the Massachusetts/Rhode Island League for Nursing (MARILN), other national accrediting agencies were also present like the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The keynote speaker for the conference was MD Welborn E. Crawford of Massachusetts Semin Hospital who has extensive experience in offering guidance on organizational leadership in the practice of medicine and is also chairman on the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) board. Crawford also has several publications under his belt specifically discussing about how to boost development skills of leadership at the workplace. His past roles in professional development are inclusive of nursing peer review and advancement, teaching and the use of simulation. The current role he holds at the hospital as MD provides oversight on how various departments of the hospital are run including quality service provision and process improvement. The conference sought to ensure that, graduating nurses from nursing school to have a platform to ensure a seamless progression in their career by furnishing with necessary knowledge and skills that will ensure their development while practicing nursing after their graduation. Participation in the conference was on the consideration of the fact of holding a charge nurse position at my workplace and the constant need to make decisions and supervise ACRNs at the workplace needed a more astute approach of leadership.

Analysis of Leadership Characteristics and Style

Most of the conflicts in the nursing industry are as an increased inefficiency in leadership styles and practices. In many instances, personality traits often in one way or the other demonstrate a link with leadership behaviors and characteristics and in this instances are either inborn or easily learned. The main focus of Crawford’s speech was on the process of enhancing transformation of other nurses’ while at the workplace through meeting the needs of the pre-identified environment. The keynote speaker kept the participants going throughout the session through the asking of questions. Through the question and feedback process, a debating platform was created similar to the one encourage for organizational leaders where employees are allowed the opportunity to be engaged in the decision-making process of an organization. He reflected on Brooks and Andersons publications which suggested that a good number of nurses felt invaluable to an organization when they were not allowed the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes and their efforts at the workplaces going unrecognized. These ideology posters to core the need of as a leader to acknowledge a subordinate in the event they contribute something worthy at the work setting.

The exchange of information and negotiation between people and their leaders has evolved over the years and this and this has similarly had an impact on leadership theories evolvement. In the conference setting, our keynote speaker had adopted the democratic style of leadership where all and sundry were allowed to measure in on the debate and from the information provided by the audience, the Crawford expounded further on their ramifications in ensuring success during task performance. Further from his speech, it became clear that apart from the democratic leadership style, there existed other two distinct styles that have always been adopted by leaders namely; authoritarian and laissez faire. Under authoritarian leadership, an employee were not allowed to make any decisions and in most cases handles all managerial duties and decisions all by themselves without any external interference from the employees. It is largely the opposite of democratic leadership. Lastly, there is the laissez-faire leadership style where the leader is in total control of all aspects of an organization. Environments are also fundamental in determining what particular style of leadership will be a success but transformational leadership is mostly championed for in many leadership settings for it is particularly considered to create a conducive environment for not only nurses but also their respective patients. However, there still exists doubts on the credibility of these words for there exists little or no studies at all that pinpoint an exact correlation between leadership behaviors, patient outcomes and nursing practice environments.

Charge nurses were therefore encouraged to adopt the transformational leadership style for the nurses that one is in-charge of are allowed to participate in any decision-making process. It has been established that nurses have positive response to transformational leadership because it ensures that build and develop themselves individually as a unit thus they are personally empowered to achieve their goals. In retrospect, in utilization of this kind of leadership, a leader is equally motivated a leader that allows the creation of synergetic environments where creativity can be easily managed. Considering the fact that a good number of nursing discords are in one way or the other related with the leaderships styles, it is important for charge nurses to adopt a stance of being facilitators for solutions as opposed to being problem creators. One important aspect fro transformational leadership is the participatory decision-making approach with employees to similar to what Dr. Crawford was utilizing at the platform. The participatory decision-making approach allows an increased accountability of actions at the workplace by employees thus they are empowered and the same can be transformed to patients. Frontline charge nurses who not have effective leadership practices in most instances do not perform their duties for solving problems at the nursing unit, it therefore important for such leaders to adapt effective leadership skills so that they can be assured of achieving better outcomes.

Communication skills

In delivering speeches, it is important for a speaker to develop an interpersonal relationship with his audience for it is the foundation for all human interaction. Not only are effective communication deponents beneficial in delivering speeches but also it ensures the normal function of various systems of an organization. In the nursing workplace, as a charge nurse it is important to ensure that communication is two-way in the sense that not only are people listening to directives of their leader but also the leader allows them the opportunity to air their concerns. Whether an individual is traversing information in a formal or informal context, it is important for them to acknowledge their audiences, purpose for speaking, follow through in what one is putting across, have a broad array of presenting your information and utilization of several techniques in delivering information CITATION Ant13 l 1033 (Anthony, et al., 2013). It is also important to note one’s external environment while putting across a specific message for it determines how information seriated and perceived by an audience. In the case of Crawford, he focused mainly on the ensuring the comfort of his audience by constantly asking whether or not they were comfortable in the conference room and delved mainly on the progressive leadership in nursing for all those in attendance were knowledgeable of the topic being discussed. The speaker was also keen on ensuring that all the stakeholders and those in attendance were convinced of his thoughts on progressive leadership for nurses and how to develop this in graduation nurses form nursing school by ensuring that he gave a clear background information of the topic he was discussing then finally gave an in-depth analysis of the developmental ways for building leadership skills for junior nurses at the workplace. While communication his information across, his stands on leadership styles were backed up by facts and claims from other professionals in the healthcare industry with utmost clarity and simplicity which ensured a good number of those in attendance to comprehend the information that was being put across and the purpose of the conference was thus being achieved in an astute and prospective manner.

MD Crawford made it his mandate to ensure that all relevant aspects of leadership in nursing and how to nurture young habits in graduating nurses could be attained which brought to core leadership issues that if neglected by one who is in-charge at the workplace could impact negatively on the functioning of a particular unit of a hospital CITATION Ame09 l 1033 (Association, 2009). Considering the fact that nurturing the graduating nurses was a new noble idea for healthcare practitioners, the idea therefore needs a lot of selling. The delivery of this message was efficient in the sense that it was being aimed at the correct audience who effectively act on it, this was ensured through constant repetition of the idea in the delivery of his speech and for sure he did deliver the message to its desired levels for a good number of participants after the conference signed up for a two month seminar that Crawford suggested for the 27th the same month where further leadership models would be discussed and how they could be applied at the workplace. With respect to the experience of Crawford and considering that he was getting delivering his speech to his peers, he adopted the good old boy presentation style. Basically, his presentation was divided into an introduction which gave a clear understanding of the problem that needed nursing practitioners’ attention. Secondly, he talked of the organizations which sponsored the event and their role in collaboration with the American Nursing Association in ensuring nurses developed well envisaged skills to be great leaders in their nursing careers upon graduation from school by ensuring there existed some sort of mentoring platform where they could interact and exchange ideas with experienced professionals in the industry CITATION Gir12 l 1033 (Girvin, 2012). Thirdly, using visual aid supports like chart drawings and diagrams, the speaker used supporting facts to put across information regarding leadership styles and how effectively communication can be achieved at the workplace. Most importantly, each visual aid used in the delivery of the speech fully gave an in-depth understanding of what was being discussed whose main purpose was to ensure that those in the audience were familiar with the topic being discussed by the end of his presentation. The conclusion of the presentation effectively showed that the proposal that was presented by the speaker could be made effective in hospital interstate and according to the interpersonal discussions among the participants; it was evident that the stakeholders present were eager to take up the initiative of pushing the recommendations into a reality. Upon conclusion of his speech, the keynote speaker allowed the participants to air their questions which were promptly answered

Critical Reflections

The speakers’ speech was outlined and delivered to the requirements of the Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives who had organized the conference. In clearly defined detail, the conference topic, “Effective Mentoring; Nursing Leadership Practices after Training Completion and development skills for charge nurses,” was extensively addressed and all the stakeholders present were given a challenge of developing some sort of mentoring program that will help in nurturing the leadership skills of graduating nurses. Guided by the conference topic, Crawford presented the leadership debate convincingly through diving his content into leadership issues and the most effective ways and the role played b communication in ensuring one was efficient in their position as a leader. The adoption of a Good Old Boy presentation style of communication was effective considering that the participants at the conference were his peers and this coupled with his use of visual aids to deliver his speech ensured a good delivery CITATION Was10 l 1033 (Waskett, 2010).

Implications for Professional Nursing Practice

The conference proceedings were influential in answering good number of concerns that those in the nursing environment experience in their workplace which generally affect the outcomes of the job. A good number of problems are associated with the nursing charge position such as poor description of the jobs being delegated to others, irresponsibility experienced with the an increase in the duties appended to a particular individual at the workplace and most importantly the lack of necessary knowledge on how to undertake leadership positions. Personally, the conference furnished with important knowledge of I was previously ignorant on: the role of communication for leadership. It was evident that as a charge nurse, I need to be not only authoritarian when it came to decision-making situations but also involvement and listening to other nurses will help with ensuring that a diverse pool of ideas are available to ensure an easy decision-making process. At the same time, involving other in decision-making ensured that they felt part of the organization that they were more motivated to perform their tasks effectively CITATION Gar09 l 1033 (Garvey, Stokes, & Megginson, 2009). As a leader, I have the mandate of ensuring and facilitating the learning process of other junior nurses at the workplace through the more refined method of mentoring. With respect to developing a mentoring platform for graduating nurses, it is important to ensure that all nurses at the workplace are under a senior guardian at the workplace who will ensure that the nurses are given lessons and guidance on how to communicate effectively at the workplace thus preparing them for future leadership positions.


 Anthony, M., Standing, T., Glick, J., Duffy, M., Paschall, F., Sauer, M., et al. (2013). Leadership and nurse retention: The pivotal role of nurse leaders. Journal for Nursing Adminstartion, 146-155.

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Garvey, B., Stokes, P., & Megginson, D. (2009). Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and Practice. London: SAGE Publications .

Girvin, J. (2012). Leadership and nursing: Part two: styles of leadership. Nursing and Managment , 20-22.

Thurston, B. (2012, August 24). Annual Conference on Nursing leadership 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives : http://www.mooneleadership.org/

Waskett, C. (2010). Clinical supervision using the 4S model 1: Considering the structure and setting it up . Nursing Times , 12-14.

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