2 Jun 2022


Transformational Leadership in Healthcare Organizations

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Academic level: College

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Naturally, humans resist change. Change introduces discomfort and forces individuals to adopt new approaches. Despite the inconvenience and discomfort that it causes, change is healthy. The healthcare industry could particularly benefit from change. For years, the players in this industry have relied on traditional and ancient approaches. Many healthcare providers have either refused or failed to adopt new methods that have proven to be more effective (Hader, 2013). For instance, only a handful of healthcare providers have integrated social media into their service delivery. The failure by other providers to adopt modern methods and techniques has denied them the opportunity to enhance the quality of care that they offer clients. The failure by some providers to embrace change can be blamed on poor leadership. There are some leaders who simply lack the vision to drive their organizations towards new horizons. Transformational leadership is what is needed in these organizations. This paper explores the issue of transformational leadership in healthcare organizations. Among other matters, the paper examines the meaning of transformation leadership and the impact that transformational leadership has on healthcare organizations.

Transformational leadership 

The meaning of transformational leadership can be found in the name. This type of leadership concerns creating change. It refers to a leadership style where an individual creates a vision and rallies others to support and commit to the vision (Marshall, 2013). Transformational leadership also involves identifying issues that require change and providing solutions that will drive the change. One of the key elements of transformational leadership is inspiration. The transformational leader must be able to inspire his juniors (Marshall, 2013). He should be able to invite them to share in his vision and provide them with the energy and enthusiasm needed for pursuing the vision. Essentially, transformational leadership involves breaking away from the past and driving an organization into the future. It involves abandoning old and ineffective techniques in favor of fresh and more effective approaches.

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It is important to examine how transformational leadership compares to other leadership styles. Autocratic, democratic, Laissez-faire and situational leadership are the main styles that are commonly applied. The autocratic style is primarily characterized by coercion and dictatorial tendencies (Goodwin, 2013). The leader does not allow his juniors to participate in decision making as he makes all the decisions. Consultations have no place in autocratic leadership. This style is known to be effective as it breeds resentment and sets the stage for conflict. The transformational leadership style is sharply contrasted to the autocratic style. While the autocratic style cracks down on dissenters and denies subordinate employees a voice, the transformational leadership style encourages participation by the junior employees. Transformational leaders understand that their juniors hold the key to achieving the vision for change.

Democratic leadership has much in common with the transformational style. The key feature of democratic leadership is participation and consultation (Goodwin, 2013). The leader involves his juniors in decision making. This creates a sense of belonging and allows the junior employees to feel valued. The same is true for transformational leadership. Leaders who have embraced this style encourage their juniors to become active players in running an organization and making decisions. Situational leadership refers to a dynamic style where a leader adopts an approach that matches the particular situation that he faces (Goodwin, 2013). For instance, when a leader is confronted by a revolt, he may be authoritarian. At times when consultations are needed, the leader embraces the democratic style. The main difference between the situational leadership style and the transformational style lies in stability. While the situational style is fluid and dynamic, transformational leadership is stable since the same approaches and principles are used.

Laissez-faire is the other leadership style that has been adopted by many. The main characteristic of this style is the leader adopts a hands-off approach (Goodwin, 2013). The leader is not closely involved in the running of the organization and the management of employees. This style is known to be ineffective as employees are denied the supervision and direction that they need from their superiors. Transformational leadership sets itself apart from the Laissez-faire style. The transformational leader is closely involved in virtually all the affairs of the organization. This leader creates a vision and promotes it among the employees to ensure that it is pursued aggressively and achieved.

Characteristics of transformational leader 

How does one identify a transformational leader? Transformational leaders can be identified by some traits which are synonymous with transformational leadership. Self-awareness is one of the qualities that characterize transformational leaders (“Five Qualities”, n.d). Transformational leaders tend to be reflective and introspective. The introspection allows them to gain a better understanding of themselves. This understanding enables them to see how their personal goals and desires are matched with the visions of their organizations. They are then able to leverage their personal goals as they pursue the visions of their organizations. The ability to develop a clear vision is another trait that defines transformational leaders (“Five Qualities”, n.d). These individuals are able to create dreams that they wish for their organizations to pursue. They are then able to set out to rally support for the dreams and visions.

Authenticity and the capacity to work with others are other qualities that set transformational leaders from others (“Five Qualities”, n.d). Transformational leaders understand that they need to be genuine and true. They are able to create an authentic presence in their organizations. With this presence, they can inspire others to help pursue their visions. In an earlier discussion, it was pointed out that transformational leaders develop visions and rally support. To be able to do this, these leaders need to enlist the help of their juniors. They understand that they cannot single-handedly pursue the vision that they have developed. They call on others to join forces with them. Humility is yet another quality that is possessed by transformational leaders (“Five Qualities”, n.d). These leaders recognize that they need to learn and listen to their juniors. They also understand that they cannot be complacent. They must continue to push towards their visions and work with their juniors to ensure that these visions materialize.

Impacts of transformational leadership on healthcare organizations and patient outcomes 

An increasing number of healthcare organizations are embracing transformational leadership. These organizations have recognized that this leadership style holds the key to improving service delivery and enhancing patient outcomes. Transformational leadership affects healthcare organizations in a number of different ways. One, it has been shown that transformational leadership empowers nurses psychologically (Attari, 2013). Healthcare facilities which are headed by transformational leaders report high satisfaction among nurses. This satisfaction translates to improved healthcare delivery. The transformational leader encourages junior employees to take part in decision making. This makes them feel valued and respected. The ultimate result is that the employees become empowered. With the empowerment, the employees are able to take initiative and help to pursue the vision developed by the leader. Any healthcare provider that wishes to create an empowered workforce needs to embrace transformational leadership.

Job satisfaction is another benefit that transformational leadership yields (Lin et al., 2015). The role performed by healthcare practitioners can be very demanding. They are required to work for long hours with limited resources. This places strains on their capacities and energies. These practitioners can derive satisfaction from their work when they are led by an individual who subscribes to the transformational leadership style. The transformational leader inspires and encourages. As he does this, he leaves the employees feeling valued. As they feel fulfilled in their jobs, the employees are able to offer their best to patients. Ultimately, healthcare facilities are able to witness a significant improvement in the quality of care that is delivered to patients.

Scientific principles form the basis of healthcare practice. Most practitioners rely on scientific principles to define the approaches to use in the delivery of care. Evidence-based management is one of the scientific principles being applied in healthcare. Studies indicate that evidence-based management is enhanced by transformational leadership (Page, 2004). The transformational leader is able to promote evidence-based practice. Since he enjoys the respect and admiration of his employees, the transformational leader is able to convince them to adopt evidence-based practice. As the employees embrace evidence-based practice, they are able to ensure that the care that they offer is grounded in scientific evidence. This goes a long way in enhancing patient outcomes. Evidence-based practice allows patients to receive care that is the product of years of scientific research.

An increasing number of healthcare organizations are recognizing the importance of adopting technology. More and more of these organizations are abandoning manual systems as they turn to automation. For instance, in previous years, healthcare practitioners relied on paper-based systems for keeping patient records. Electronic health records management has allowed the practitioners to computerize the record keeping function. This change can be attributed to transformational leadership. Transformational leaders have encouraged their organizations to keep up with the times by embracing modern technology. These leaders are able to convince their organizations to recognize that the adoption of technology promises to revolutionize how medical services are delivered (Page, 2004). Patients have been the biggest gainers of the adoption of technology. Thanks to technology, patients no longer have to wait in long queues for services. Technology has also brought down the cost of medical services. The development of innovative approaches to treatment is another impact that technology has had. Overall, the adoption of technology which has been made possible by transformational leadership, has greatly enhanced patient outcomes.

Transformational leadership, and the present and future of the nursing profession 

Transformational leadership continues to shape nursing practice. Today, the nursing profession has benefited immensely from transformational leadership. As a result of this leadership style, more and more nurses are becoming satisfied with their jobs (Robbins & Davidhizar, 2007). This contrasts with the situation in the past where many nurses abandoned the profession and moved to other fields that offered greater satisfaction. This created a biting nursing shortage that adversely affected patient outcomes. It is true that the present state of nursing is not perfect. The profession still faces a shortage. Additionally, there are some nurses who face frustration and are not satisfied with their jobs. Despite this, it is important to recognize the progress that the profession has made. As already noted, nurses are becoming more satisfied with their jobs and this has translated to improvements in the delivery of care to patients. All this can be attributed to transformational leadership. Transformational leaders saw the challenges that the nursing profession was facing and set out to develop solutions. Now that these solutions are being implemented, some gains are being witnessed.

The present state of nursing has been shaped to a large extent by transformational leaders. One of the traits that define transformational leaders is their desire to leave a legacy. These leaders want to be remembered as the drivers of change. The changes that they introduce do not end when they leave the profession. They encourage their juniors to adopt the same transformational leadership style and continue implementing change (Marshall, 2013). The result of this has been an increase in the adoption of transformational leadership. Nurses have embraced this style in the management of their personal issues and in the performance of their duties. This has created an environment where all nurses are committed to driving change for better patient outcomes.

The future of nursing is promising. This promise is the result of the adoption of the transformational style by many nursing leaders. These leaders understand that the profession will face many challenges tomorrow and they recognize that transformational leadership holds the key to addressing these challenges. As the nursing profession moves into the future, its members understand that they can no longer look to their leaders for solutions. They need to be proactive and take part in the development of solutions. It is true that the nursing profession will continue to face challenges even in the future. However, as more nurses embrace transformational leadership, these challenges will be addressed with ease. Patients can look forward to a future where nurses are committed to delivering the best possible care and are concerned about the holistic wellbeing of the patients.

In conclusion, transformational leadership is being adopted across many industries. The technology industry is witnessing a surge in the adoption of this style. The medical profession is also encouraging members to embrace this leadership style. Transformational leadership has allowed healthcare providers to develop and pursue visions. These organizations have also been able to rally their employees behind these visions. Patient outcomes have registered a remarkable improvement as more medical professionals implement changes that are aimed at offering better services. The impacts of transformational leadership are not limited to the present state of the medical profession. Transformational leadership promises to shape the future of nursing and the medical profession as a whole.


Attari, M. (2013). The Impact of Transformational Leadership on Nurse Psychological Empowerment. International Journal of Hospital Research, 2 (2), 71-76.

Five Qualities of Transformational Leaders. (n.d). Retrieved 8 th May 2017 from


Goodwin, N. (2013). Leadership in Health Care: A European Perspective. London: Routledge.

Hader, R. (2013). The Only Constant is Change. Nursing Management, 44 (5). DOI: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000429006.47269.22 

Lin, P., MacLennan, S., Hunt, N. & Cox, T. (2015). The Influences of Nursing Transformational Leadership Style on the Quality of Nurses’ Working Lives in Taiwan: A Cross-Sectional Quantitative Study. BMC Nursing, 14 (33). DOI: 10.1186/s12912-015-0082-x 

Marshall, E. S. (2013). Becoming the Transformational Leader for the Future of Health Care. 

Retrieved 8 th May 2017 from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/networks/oln/2013/Marshall-Day-1.pdf 

Page, A. (2004). Transformational Leadership and Evidence-Based Management. In Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. 

Robbins, B. & Davidhizar, R. (2007). Transformational Leadership in Health Care Today. Health Care Management, 26 (3), 234-239. 

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