Organizational leadership is an important component to effective management. An organization’s leadership directly influences how workers within the organization perceive their working environment. Additionally, the leaders of an organization affect how workers handle organizational changes and whether or not they accept organizational initiatives as their own. Style of leadership is a key ingredient in developing an effective organizational management system, and this is particularly true in the healthcare setting. Two typical styles of leadership often used in healthcare management are transformational and transactional leadership.
BusinessDictionary.com defines transformational leadership as a “Style of leadership in which the leader identifies the needed change, creates a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executes the change with the commitment of the members of the group.” This style of leadership is inclusive of the ideas, thoughts, feelings and opinions of workers within the organization. Transformational leadership seeks to transform the thoughts and attitudes of the workers to encourage, inspire and motivate them to buy into the ideas and visions set forth by their leaders, based on the necessity of changes within an organization such as a healthcare organization. Some examples of transformational leadership in a healthcare setting are (1) fostering open communication and positive thinking within the organization, (2) encouraging a shared organizational vision, (3) continually working toward quality improvement in the healthcare setting, and (4) teaching the importance of high quality service to patients and to the community (Trofino, 1995).
According to Trofino (1995), fostering open communication and positive thinking is a way for workers to adopt can-do attitudes and for leaders and workers to lift each other up to higher levels of morality and motivation. Encouraging a shared organizational vision is a way that leadership can engage workers in participating in sharing ideas and brainstorming on solutions to issues to reach common goals. Continually working toward better quality in a healthcare setting can include streamlining processes and implementing new systems and up-to-date technology to assist workers in their day-to-day jobs. Quality improvement in the workplace also includes leadership’s attentiveness to workers needs to help them feel comfortable and happy in their work environment. Additionally, teaching high quality service skills to workers will translate into happy patients and this will be known throughout the community.
Transactional leadership is defined by BusinessDictionary.com as “Style of leadership that is based on the setting of clear objectives and goals for the followers as well as the use of either punishments or rewards in order to encourage compliance with these goals.” This style of leadership is based on exchanges between leadership and workers. In other words, it is based on transactions between leadership and the workers. The transactions are based on something valued by the workers and are reinforced by leadership (Trofino, 1995). As stated by Aarons (2006), transactional leadership is based on using rewards as positive reinforcement by the leader and is driven by the worker meeting performance goals, targets and objectives. Additionally, negative reinforcements or punishments are imposed when workers do not meet objectives.
Some examples of transactional leadership in a healthcare setting are (1) workers receiving a day’s pay in exchange for a day’s work, (2) workers receiving recognition for putting in a certain amount of years of service with an organization, (3) leadership bringing a worker under disciplinary action for not following protocol completely (4) leadership imposing on a worker what his or her professional goals are within the organization, instead of allowing the worker to articulate his or her own goals.
According to Trofino (1995), an example of a reward in a transactional leadership arrangement is a worker being paid for the day and being recognized for working with an organization over a number of years. These are aspects of a worker’s relationship with his leadership that is certainly of value. In the healthcare setting, this can also include receiving overtime or comp time pay for working extra hours, and in a transactional leadership environment, this may not include any other recognition or appreciation other than the money. In contrast to rewards for doing good at work, transactional leadership environments also punish workers for failures such as forgetting a step in a protocol process, instead of offering alternative means such as more training. This has a negative effect on the worker. Another way transactional leadership can have a negative effect is dictating to the worker what their professional goals should be on their evaluation, instead of letting the worker choose his own goals.
Effective leadership and management in a healthcare setting is critical to efficient operations and continued dedication and commitment of the workers. The transformational leadership style is likely more conducive to this ideal because it “creates a vision and inspires subordinates to strive beyond required expectations, whereas transactional leadership focuses more on extrinsic motivation for the performance of job tasks” (Aarons, 2006). The examples above are indicators that transformational leadership is a good choice for leading in the healthcare setting because this style of leadership will be instrumental in empowering healthcare personnel at all levels to expand patient-centered and patient-directed health outcomes to new heights (Trofino, 1995).
Aarons, G. A. (2006, August). Transformational and Transactional Leadership: Association With Attitudes Toward Evidence-Based Practice. Psychiatric Services, 57(8), 1162-1169.
Transactional Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved from Business Dictionary: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/transactional-leadership.html
Transformational Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved from Business Dictionary: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/transformational-leadership.html
Trofino, J. (1995, August). Transformational Leadership in Health Care. Nursing Management, 26(8).