Leadership is defined as influencing people to achieve a purpose or set of goals, but differentiating it from management causes confusion in many instances (Tappen, Weiss and Whitehead, 2004; Senior and Fleming, 2006; Robbins, Judge and Sanghi, 2009). Leaders can be managers but not all managers can be effective leaders, making leadership an important aspect of effective management (Tappen, Weiss and Whitehead, 2004).
Several attempts have been made over the years to explain the characteristics of an effective leader. Trait, behavioural/style, situational-contingency and transformational theories are some of the theories that have been proposed to explain these characteristics (Yoder-Wise, 2003; Tappen, Weiss and Whitehead, 2004; Senior and Fleming, 2006). Goleman (2000) also used competencies of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills) to explain these characteristics. Nevertheless, none of these theories seem to adequately explain the characteristics that make an individual an effective leader. Yoder-Wise (2003) recognises followership as attitudes exhibited by individuals that the leader comes into contact with and explains that followers collaborate and act with the leader.
Mahoney (2001) states that all nurses must acquire leadership skills since nursing leadership ranges from the staff nurse caring for a patient to a nurse in charge of a hospital. Nurses in clinical leadership positions collaborate with other leaders in the healthcare system to promote positive change (Touati et al., 2006). However, Antrobus and Kitson (1999) criticise nursing leadership for its lack of external focus (socio-political impact on health policies). They recommend that, in addition to the knowledge on issues related to nursing practice, potential leaders of nursing should familiarise themselves with social and health policies, management and research. Sutherland and Dodd (2008) identify that a lot of changes are occurring within the healthcare system, driving the need for leadership development.
As a clinical leader in the making, a sound understanding of strategies for change management would prepare me as an effective leader. This is a reflective essay on how I set up a personal development plan to gain much insight on strategies for change management. The reflection is guided by Gibbs’s reflective cycle (1988 cited by Jasper, 2003). Although Cotton (2001) sees reflective practice in nursing as a problem, Durgahee (1996) identifies that nurses are able to perfect their actions when they examine their experiences through reflection and, consequently, become conscious of how different elements of care inform total professional nursing practice.
The essay begins with a brief introduction of my background, and a description of issues that led me to focus on change management strategies in my personal development plan. It, then, follows with a reflection on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that I have and how these would influence my career in the future.
The plan is presented, beginning with my learning objective and actions that I hope to take to meet my learning objective. The literature is then reviewed, followed by an appraisal of my organisation and how I plan to implement change. The last section describes my progress.
I graduated with a BSc. Nursing degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana in 2008. I practised at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), also in Ghana, as a general nurse for one year before enrolling at the University of Nottingham for MSc. Advanced Nursing. My responsibilities, as stated by the Ghana Health Service (2005), are to:
Assess care needs of patients, develop and implement plans of nursing care accordingly
Formulate, initiate and revise patient care as condition warrants...