According to Northouse a transformational leader is an inspirational leader that motivates and cultivates personal growth of followers through fostering confidence, competence and moral values (as cited in Whitehead, Dittman, & McNulty, 2017). Indeed, in the world of nursing this is an important factor as team work is shown to equate to positive outcomes, not only for the organization, but for the individual nurse and the patients as well (Whitehead, Dittman, & McNulty, 2017).
The article by Merill (2015) proved this to be true in her descriptive correlational study that surveyed 466 nurses in 41 different nursing departments in 9 different hospitals. Her study found a direct correlation between transformational leadership style among nurse managers and patient safety outcomes. Merill (2015) concluded that a transformational leader fosters positive socialization and training, a blameless environment and a good interprofessional collaboration especially among pharmacist.
Socialization and training are ways that new nurses can get accustomed to their respective floor’s culture, independent of the goals dictated by their organization (Merill, 2015). Under transformational leadership, Merill (2015) found new nurses are less likely to feel insecure and apprehensive from asking help. According to Merill (2015) a blameless environment is where errors committed are not viewed as ineptitude but rather as a chance to learn and grow. In addition, Merill (2015) compared transformational leaders to laissez-faire leaders who, when under pressure regarding safety issues, are quick to blame the staff instead of searching for the main cause of the problem. Lastly, Merill (2015) concluded that transformational leaders recognized the importance of interprofessional collaboration, especially with pharmacists, that helped in reducing cases of medication errors.
Merill’s study regarding the characteristics of an effective nurse manager that promotes patient safety can also be applied to a charge nurse. A charge nurse like a nurse manager directs and oversees the overall coordination and assessment of patient care provided on the floor however for only a brief time. However, in that brief amount of time depending on the work ethic and attitude of the charge it can mean a big difference to the staff morale.
In my experience, I found that charge nurses who exemplifies the characteristics of a transformational leader are better at promoting communication among staff members because of their approachable nature. There is more likely to be open conversations among the staff regarding patient issues at work and their main cause and ways to resolve them with positive outcomes. When I was a brand-new nurse, I use to follow the work schedule of people at work who are an embodiment of a transformational leader because I feel more secure coming to work and knowing that I have a resource person at work who I can ask for guidance regarding appropriate patient intervention or care when situation arises. This in turn promotes my learning and expands my knowledge. When nursing students at work would shadow me, the first thing I teach them is do not hesitate to ask. Asking is a good thing. It is better to ask than make a mistake that could hurt a patient.
I also found that charge nurses with a transformational attitude do not focus on who to blame but instead find ways to solve the issue. Instead of being dismissive and short with the coworker who made the error, they help the coworker resolve the issue completely. For example, one of my coworkers had a patient who went AMA. Unfortunately, my coworker forgot to take out the patient’s peripheral IV. Instead of just dictating to my already frantic coworker the appropriate authorities to call to have the patient come back to the hospital, our charge at that time made the phone calls for my coworker. My coworker in turn was able to think through the situation properly, not be distracted by the issue, and continue to provide care to her other patients.
Learning about transformational leaders through this class and having experienced working with them firsthand makes me value their work ethic and attitude more, especially in the areas of patient safety and staff morale. I hope that one day when I find myself in the same position as them I am able to be as effective as they are.