Healthcare in the United States is constantly changing and becoming increasing more complex. An essential portion of the recent Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, focuses on the significance of nurses as leaders in healthcare (2010). The terms “leader” and “manager” are sometimes used interchangeably. Those of us who have worked for, or with, someone who is one and not the other will see the error in viewing those terms as synonymous. An individual can be a great leader but not a manager. Conversely, a typical nurse can be a manager but not possess many nursing leadership skills. According to Huber (2010) leadership is defined as “the process of influencing people to accomplish goals” (p. 6). Key concepts related to leadership according to Huber (2010) are influence, communication, group process, goal attainment and motivation. At is core, leadership is influencing people. In contrast, management involves influencing employees to meet an organizational goals and objectives. Huber (2010) defines management as “the coordination and integration of resources through planning, organizing, coordinating, directing, and controlling to accomplish specific on institutional goals and objectives (p.5). Managers plan, organize and control, while leaders communicate vision, motivate, inspire and empower in order to create organizational change.
Although differences do exist, the roles can definitely overlap. The best case scenario is for an individual to have the best characteristics of both. All nurses are leaders and managers at some level. We all strive for a balance between doing the right thing and doing things right. The rapid and dramatic changes in health care make these skills more important than ever. I see my current leadership style as being a very hands-on manager. While I am clearly in charge of my team, we are nonetheless a team – and I am very much a member of that team. When the circumstances...
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