The participating leadership style is facilitative, and the nurse will receive the supervision that she needs to feel completely comfortable with the work that she is doing.
The delegating leader provides less specific directions and engages in two-way communication with his or her subordinates. The unit manager decreases both the amount of task or directing behavior and the amount of relationship or supportive behavior. The unit manager develops trust in the new nurse in this way, and the delegating leader is confident that he or she has high-readiness followers.
Chen and Silverthorne (2005) conducted a study designed to test the Situational Leadership Theory (SLT) refined by Hersey and Blanchard (1984) and earlier explicated by Fiedler (1972). These researchers looked specifically at the viability of the theory of leadership effectiveness and the impact of what they called the degree of match between the leadership style and the employee readiness level on a variety of measures regarding leadership outcome. Chen and Silverthorne (2005) noted that the influence of leadership style on job performance, satisfaction, stress, and turnover intention has been well established in numerous empirical studies. At the same time, there is also evidence regarding the necessity of eliminating leader reliance on a single leadership style and the development of competencies which permit the leader to assess specific situations and respond to those situations appropriately.
Major findings generated by the authors include a failure to support SLT predictions advanced by earlier researchers that an appropriate match between leadership style and subordinate readiness invariably results in higher levels of followers' job satisfaction and overall performance in tandem with lower levels of job stress and intent to leave the company. At the same time, the study did suggest that SLT is correct in that the higher that a leader scores in terms of the SLT leadership inventory, the more effective that his or her influence will be. Chen and Silverthorne (2005) do note that a leadership score in and of itself does not predict job performance but that there is a positive correlation between ability and willingness, employee job satisfaction, and job performance. It should be noted, however, that the study was conducted in Taiwan and therefore may not generalize well to other populations, especially those in Western countries where ideas regarding employment, management, and leadership are often looked at somewhat differently. A questionable bias in Fiedler's (1992) theories, according to the literature that was researched, is an assumption that women leaders are not task-oriented and men are not sensitive, nurturing, and/or caring (Smith, and Doyle, 2001). According to Murphy (2005), as cited in Marquis and Huston (2006), Fiedler's (1992) theories of SLT focuses on the situation only, with little emphasis on interpersonal and intrapersonal factors.
Transformational and Transactional Leadership Theories
The concepts of both transformational and transactional leadership theories were first introduced by James MacGregor Burns (1978) in his treatment of political leadership, but are now used as well in organizational psychology and in higher education institutions. According to Gardiner (2006), Burns asserted that, "the result of transforming leadership is a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents" (p.2). Transformational leadership appeals to the moral values of followers in an attempt to raise their consciousness about ethical issues and to mobilize their energy and resources to reform institutions. The followers experience a sense of trust, admiration, loyalty, and respect toward the leader, and they are motivated to do more than they originally expected to do.
Yukl's (2002) explanation of transformational leadership is that it helps ordinary people to do extraordinary things; they then develop a higher vision that is shared, thus creating a feeling of empowerment. However, to achieve this level of leadership effectiveness, certain competencies are necessary, and these require intellectual growth (Murphy 2005). To maintain intellectual growth, Leithwood (1994) suggests three fundamental goals that education leaders must pursue: (1) to help people develop and maintain a collaborative culture; (2) to foster staff development; and (3) to help their people to solve problems together more effectively.
Ciulla (2004) noted that many organizations are now demanding that their leaders become transformational leaders who function with respect to a set of moral commitments but who also introduce other leadership issues. This new paradigm of leadership issue, according to Ciulla (2004), does not ignore the influence of situational leadership theory (SLT), but instead tends to focus on leadership style in all situations automatically, instead of focusing on the leadership style because of the situation. Ciulla (2004) takes the position that transformational (or charismatic) leadership has become too definitive a focus of leadership studies and that what is needed is an exploration of honesty, trust, and related questions that actually shape the relationship between leaders and followers. Ciulla (2004) appears to be largely focused on the idea that followers will respond positively to leaders that they perceive as honest, trustworthy, and responsible. Whether or not such leaders are highly charismatic or able to transform their followers through empowerment may be less significant than the fact that they transform others because they are trustworthy role models.
Transactional leaders, in contrast, are less focused on enlarging the capacities of others. According to Huston and Marquis (2006) "the transactional leader focuses on management tasks, is a caretaker, uses trade-offs to meet goals, does not identify shared values, examine causes, and uses contingency reward" (p. 56). In addition, according to Burns (1978) transactional leaders "approach their followers with an eye to trading one thing for another: jobs for votes, subsidies for campaign contributions" (p. 213).
An example from the health care field comes to mind and therefore will be discussed here. When a new nurse advances to the fourth leadership style of situational leadership, that of 'delegating,' her leadership style will be at a high-readiness level, she will require fewer directives from the unit manager, and more respect will be given to her by her unit manager as well. Based on contingency variables, the transformational leader will begin to develop a visualization of change; a visualization that could solve the problem; a visualization of the outcome. The transactional leader, therefore, not only sees these visualizations but hones the visual directives given by the transformational leader, who then begins to direct and strategize with regard to the situation that needs to be changed. It is up to the transactional leader to decide on the who, when, where, how, why, and/or what of the situation. The new nurse, in this example situation and with a transactional leader, would have received the unit managers' visualization of what could fix the problem (the outcome) and it is incumbent upon him or her to then implement a plan of care to meet that goal. He or she must now be sure to also maintain the culture of the environment during this process.
These final comments are those that most reflect this writer's understanding of what an effective leader must do and achieve. Such a leader will be able to empower, inspire, motivate and transform others. He or she will be an excellent and proactive communicator and mentor for others; able to delegate when possible and able to adapt to the demands of uncertain environments requiring change. The transformational leader is able to capitalize upon situational opportunities and is flexible, but he or she is driven by a vision of the organization and a personal commitment to excellence in all things. A transformational leader in the educational and nursing arena is likely to possess the skills and attitudes needed to motivate, inspire, teach and empower subordinates and students. By having these abilities, the transformational leader also performs as a servant leader who demonstrates sensitivity to what motivates others to achieve shared goals and visions of the institution. In essence, the servant leaders' goal is to foster an interactive theory of leadership.
Servant leadership is often based on Christian principles, although this is not required. It is a leadership concept that is designed to show that a leader can be a steward for the company, lead by example, help others, and not have to use any of the more 'heavy handed' leadership styles. While the servant leadership style is more often employed by women, men are becoming increasing more aware of (and more interested in) this particular style, because it seems to work well.
Larry Spears, (2004), identified ten characteristics from Greenleaf's (1977) original writings of the servant leader. Similarly, according to Greenleaf (1977) as cited in Huston and Marquis (2006) servant leaders put serving others -- including employees, customers and the community -- as their first priority. They have an open mind and listen without becoming judgmental. Other qualities include the ability to deal with ambiguity and complex issues, and the ability to use foresight and intuition (Huston, & Marquis, 2006).
Greenleaf (1977) described the servant leader as an individual who takes care of the needs of subordinates and followers and who works to empower and enlarge others' capacity for excellence. The…