Leadership is the process through which an individual influences other people to accomplish a set goal or objective. Leaders develop through a continuous process of education, experience, self study and training because a true leader is made but not born. True leaders do not allow personal conflicts or goals to interfere with their mandated duties. Therefore, they should overcome bureaucracy, politics, and resource barriers to achieve organizational objectives.
Nursing leaders can either be democratic leaders or autocratic leaders depending on the manner in which they conduct themselves when making decisions or delegating duties. A democratic leader or a participative leader allows his or her juniors to participate in the decision-making process (Glanz, 2004). It has been established that this leadership style is very effective because it enables those who practice it to achieve higher productivity, increased group morale and better contribution from the juniors. Despite the fact that the juniors are encouraged to share opinions and ideas, the democratic leader retains the final decision. While this leadership style is considered by experts as the most effective, it has its downsides. For example, it can lead uncompleted projects or communication breakdowns in circumstances where roles are unclear. Experts hold that it is necessary for a democratic leader to learn some characteristics of a bureaucratic or autocratic leader as a back-up plan when democracy fails.
In contrast to a democratic leader, an autocratic leader has total control and authority over the decisions made. By virtue of their responsibilities and the position they hold, autocratic leaders not only monitors his juniors while on duty, but also controls the efforts of his or her juniors under close scrutiny (Goleman, 2000). This leadership style is applicable in situations where direction and control is needed. When conditions are challenging and dangerous, a rigid leader will bring provider by keeping his or her subordinates out of harm. In many organizational set-ups, the subordinates often lack experience or are unfamiliar with the kind of work they are supposed to complete. As a result, they must work under close supervision of an autocratic leader to complete their duties and responsibilities. Experts are o the opinion that because of its paternalistic nature, autocratic leadership often lead to independent minded, motivated and highly professional teams (Glanz, 2004). Unfortunately, most autocratic leaders face resentments and strained morale from their juniors.
It can be seen that the nursing profession need a democratic leader because this profession requires nurses need to share ideas and opinions in order to deliver quality care to patients. This is because a democratic leader will allow junior nurses to share their thought and use these ideas to provide a more creative solution to a complex problem. Since junior members will be involved in the decision making process, they will be more committed to their duties, making them more anticipative to the end result. As stated earlier, a democratic leadership enables an organization to experience higher productivity, which is vital in healthcare.
For many decades, the debate between management and leadership has elicited heated debates from various circles. However, it is important for one to understand the difference between the two as it helps in understanding what management and leadership is. The striking similarity between the two is that they both involve influencing employees or constituents (Kotter, 2009). Another similarity is that power and authority are generally given with both management and leadership. It is asserted that a person can be a great manager a great leader, or both, but each calls for a mastery of slightly different competencies and skills. On the other hand, managing means to accomplish, to bring about, to conduct, and to responsibility for or have charge of something. Leadership means to guide in a direction, opinion, action, or influence. Howatt (2008) asserts that while a leader innovates, a manager administers. Moreover, he is of the opinion that while the leader is an original, the manager is a copy. Despite the fact that management and leadership appear to be different notions, an individual can not be effective without the other. It is believed that management minus leadership leads to the application of power and status to control employees and the available resources, which can be disastrous for any organization.