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Leadership is defined as a combination of skills, internal motivation or personality traits and characteristics in any particular situation in which a person is able to influence the values, attitudes, beliefs or behaviour of a team (Daly, Speedy & Jackson, 2006). It is an art which can motivate or inspire a person or a group to do well and achieve a common goal. In leadership a person who works as a leader directs a group by using knowledge, skills and personality traits and all team members follow this leader. Leadership occurs when someone influences others to act in a situation by guiding, inspiring and motivating (Davidson, 2010).
There are seven major characteristics of a leader which play a vital role in leadership. The first and most important characteristic is self esteem. A leader should have knowledge of his or her strengths and weaknesses. If a person is able to find their own self then he or she can build strength in others and can also create confidence which can counterbalance any weaknesses or ineffectiveness in others. This is very important in every field of leadership. A leader should know about his or her own worth and be able to make good decisions (Blais, Hayes, Kozier & Erb, 2006).
Secondly, a leader should be a good communicator, because communication always works to increase unity and it leads to teamwork. A leader who has good communication skills can understand team members' views and think about them. A leader always motivates team members to share their ideas to ensure that all are able to contribute to achieve the common goal. If a leader can communicate well with group members regarding their plans and ask them about their ideas, they will feel more motivated and valued for their work and also will understand their duties. This characteristic empowers the team members to equally participate in achieving common goal (Vanhove, 2010).
Integrity is an important and effective quality of a leader which involves honesty, loyalty and trustworthiness in leadership. It is demonstrated by a person's thinking, attitudes and actions. People always judge integrity by a leader's behaviour and truthfulness during work. If a person treats others well with a strong sense of right and wrong and shows dedication towards their work, they are a trustworthy and respected leader. Leaders can display integrity by working clearly and honestly with team spirit (Kelly, 2009).
A leader should have balance between professional or family life. It is a good trait of a leader to have a balanced life. If a person pays attention to their work or their goals at the appropriate time and then is also able to maintain their personal relationships by giving time to family members and friends, then that person can lead without stress in their work place. A leader can become a role model by balancing their life (Whitehead, Weiss & Tappen, 2004).
Having a good vision is another essential quality of leadership. By this characteristic a leader can find out new opportunities and new trends to make their organisation strong and successful. A leader who has good visualization of upcoming possibilities and trends can make a difference in discerning good and bad opportunities. By this visionary leadership, leaders can imagine effective goals for team members and apply these in order to avoid difficult problems. Leaders should screen opportunities or information and choose the useful information for their team to attain the best outcomes. This personality trait is also important for the professional growth of a person (Sullivan & Decker, 2009).
In addition, a leader should have the power to make decisions and empower the team members to share their ideas with management. Empowerment makes a leader confident and relevant to work in the organisation. By empowering group members, their contribution to thinking and planning increases their passion to work in a group (Huber, 2006).
Moreover, awareness and observance of their environment should be in leadership. A person who has the ability to observe that what is happening around him or her can work as a leader. In some tough situations a leader can observe the problem and make some relevant decisions to solve it. Good observational skills help to detect upcoming difficulties and enable strategies to be put in place to prevent harm by informing the group in advance (Spears, 2010).
These characteristics are very important in nursing leadership because an effective nurse leader can work with others to gain universal goals like better client care, make new policies and create new procedures. In nursing leadership, integrity is very important because patients and health workers always accept honesty and rely on trustworthy leaders. As a leader, a nurse has to notice different issues and perspectives to improve clients' health, so good characteristics make him or her passionate and a source of encouragement to do the best which result in a good impact on others (Carroll, 2002).
In the health care environment, leaders and teams or team work are necessary for success so it is important to have good traits in a leader to promote the health and take appropriate action in order to meet patients' needs. In nursing field effective leadership require all these characteristics to understand the human emotions that nurses face daily basis. By having good self esteem, nurse leader can understand and accept own self in nursing. Some traits like good communication and good observation in nurse leaders make them strong to focus on achieving common goal related to client care and it increase leadership capacity which are vital to ensuring assessment of situation and implementation of a suitable plan of action. Nursing leadership based on honesty and truthfulness because patients trust on nurses for improvement in health care with understanding (Daly, Speedy & Jackson, 2010).
Nursing practice is affected by these characteristics which are needed to shape and improve the structure of health care facilities. They help to make new strategies in order to achieve common goals. Health field is a difficult field so staff and management have to tackle difficult situations in daily routine so this helps in decision making and problem solving (Shaw, 2007)
Empowerment makes staff members independent to share their ideas and power to take decision in client care. By having these characteristics in nursing leaders they can learn from adversity and show dedication to the job. By good observation a leader can monitor the staff's work to maintain quality and provide the best direction to staff for future. It is essential for nurses to realize that people require ongoing feedback which can be positive or negative. In the practise of nursing, effective leadership requires understanding common goals and needs of staff and patients which can be created by motivating and empowering the team and others who will interact with it (Blais, Hayes, Kozier & Erb, 2006).
Change always affected by power. It can be in different position. Power works for change by using different methods and ways. It can be knowledge, money and experiences of particular field. In nursing field nurses can make change only in their limitations and by using their own power which should be related to client care (Painter, 2010).
Power is defined as one person's effect or influence on others to gain support in order to implement new ideas. It can be used to reward or punishing others for right or wrong action. People are always affected by power and sometimes it influences every day practice in nursing and nurses represent the power capacity to react and respond in a range of ways. Power can produce changes in work place and quality of work for best result in health care environment. Nurses' knowledge, practise and understanding of their role in helping people make them more able to influence people by particular decision making related to people's health and wellbeing. Their power and authority can be used to improve the patients' condition and nursing practise (Marquis, 2009)
Nurses have power to discuss new policies and plan. They can speak about right and wrong in practise and share their ideas to benefits clients care. Power also can be use to improve skills and knowledge of working group. Nurses use their power to work for client for better outcomes (Huntington & Gilmour, 2006).
Nurses can exercise their power by educating to patients and their families in order to achieve better health and make changes in their power. Secondly, nurse can use power effectively by changing behaviour of colleagues by introducing new policies and plans. Nurse can improve their performance in their profession by getting training which will improve their good practice (Tomey, 2004).
Nursing managers use their power to make changes in organizations by evaluating staff in order to reward and punish them. Nurses use power to share information and work as experts in nursing field. Nurses use information and reasonable power to promote health. Empowering everyone in this field, prevent conflicts and other unsatisfactory behaviour in the work place. Moreover, empowerment provides independence to make decisions for health worker in their field (Yoder- Wise, 2003).
Nurses should always use their power to be trustworthy health care providers because power makes a relationship of trust between nurse and client. In other words, nurse can effectively use power strategy to motivate others to connect and collaborate to achieve professional goals (Huber, 2006).
In conclusion, leadership is a process to influence others by some characteristics to make change and achieve common goal in profession. Seven key characteristics like integrity, self esteem, communication skill, power, balance in life and observation, are very important for nursing leader because by these characteristics a leader can impact strongly on others and feel more confident to motivate others. Honesty and vision to know opportunities create trust among staff, client and leader which is important to improve health services for better care. In nursing field power of a leader and nurse creates changes in others to get success for the implementation of plans and improve knowledge by training. Appropriate use of power in nursing, plays a vital role in managing difficult situations in decision making.