There is an impending gap in the nursing practice with the forthcoming retirement of nursing leaders and the shortage of competent nurses, thus a void is left causing uncertainty in the field of practice. A significant problem and a challenge as well in the present time is the creation of new leaders in elevating nursing as a whole through authentic leadership. Authentic leadership is a leadership that is based on positivity and strong ethical foundations that will steer nursing to produce better research and improved practice. In addition, as the technology advances, more issues will arise from ethical dilemmas and more stressful working environment will flourish which can be detrimental to both patients and nurses. Wong’s proposed theory on authentic leadership was created in hope of finding the most effective form of leadership that can pave the way towards a meaningful life among nurses and their patients. This form of leadership builds on optimism and commitment to the profession. The implementation of authentic leadership can affect not only the nursing workforce and the profession but the healthcare delivery system and society as a whole. Creating a healthy work environment for nursing practice is crucial to maintain an adequate nursing workforce; the stressful nature of the profession often leads to burnout, disability, and high absenteeism and ultimately contributes to the escalating shortage of nurses. Leaders play a pivotal role in retention of nurses by shaping the healthcare practice environment to produce quality outcomes for staff nurses and patients (Shirey 2006). Also, organizational culture and leadership matter in creating and sustaining healthy work environments. Nurse managers play a pivotal role in creating these environments, yet they need supportive structures and resources to more effectively execute their roles (Shirey 2009).
There is leadership, and then there is authentic leadership. If you are not willing to engage from your heart, to passionately work to create a greater quality of work life for front-line staff every day, and to push yourself to the ultimate limit to make that happen, you might be a leader, but you will not be perceived as an authentic leader. Authentic leaders love, challenge people to do what they didn't believe was possible, and generate the energy to make the impossible possible by their passion for their people, their patients, and for doing the right thing. A key element of a healthy work environment is trust: trust between staff and their leaders. Authentic leadership is proposed as the core of effective leadership needed to build trust because of its clear focus on the positive role modeling of honesty, integrity, and high ethical standards in the development of leader-follower relationships (Wong & Cummings 2009). Authentic leaders are intrinsically grown but are molded by the values and experience imparted to them. They are the ones who are hopeful, optimistic, and resilient in times of uncertainty. They keep their line of communication open and value their group first even at their own expense. It is of essence that they act both with rational objectivity and subjectivity. Self awareness is vital in authentic leadership. Through careful assessment of one’s strength and weaknesses, the person can be more open to things and can decide better without kneejerk reactions from their emotions. Leaders with high self awareness are more adaptable to the ever changing society and remain composed at times of hardships. An authentic leader must act with compassion for its followers and align their values with their actions. An author said, “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death” - Sun Tzu.
Leaders should be transparent and function accordingly and not act with automaticity. There is pressure and a significant role among master’s students to propel nursing, contribute to research, and be the sturdy anchor of nursing in the future. Nurses must possess leadership that exemplifies character and integrity to attain current and future goals. The challenge for nurses nowadays is to make their own path and leave a trail rather than follow where a path may lead which in consequence will create innovation in our profession. There is a call for them to create a sustainable development in the field. The best theoretical or practical approaches to achieving learning outcomes in nursing likely depend on multiple variables, including instructor-related variables. Application of the principles inherent in servant leadership to teaching/learning in nursing education is suggested as a way to produce professional nurses who are willing and able to transform the health care environment to achieve higher levels of quality and safety. Thus, the concept of servant teaching is introduced with discussion of the following principles and their application to teaching in nursing: judicious use of power, listening and empathy, willingness to change, reflection and contemplation, collaboration and consensus, service learning, healing, conceptualization, stewardship, building community, and commitment to the growth of people. Faculty colleagues are invited to explore the use of servant teaching and its potential for nursing education (Robinson 2009). In relation to this, how can nursing leaders and professors lead in producing better nurses or what leadership style would be most effective to shape master’s students as the current learning scholars? How can nurses find meaning in their work through authentic leadership?
Shirey, M. (2006). Authentic Leaders Creating Healthy Work Environments for Nursing Practice. American Journal of Critical Care. 2006;15: pages 256-267. Retrieved from http://ajcc.aacnjournals.org/content/15/3/256.short
Shirey, M. (2009). Authentic Leadership, Organizational Culture, and Healthy Work Environments. Critical Care Nursing Quarterly. 2009; volume 32. issue 3, pages 189-198. Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/ccnq/Abstract/2009/07000/Authentic_Leadership,_Organizational_Culture,_and.3.aspx
Wong, C. & Cummings, G. (2009). The influence of authentic leadership behaviors on trust and work outcomes of health care staff. Journal of Leadership Studies. 2009; volume 3, issue 2, pages 6–23. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jls.20104/abstract
Robinson, F. (2009). Servant Teaching: The Power and Promise for Nursing Education. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship. 2009; volume 6. issue 1. Article 5. Retrieved from http://www.bepress.com/ijnes/vol6/iss1/art5/