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Styles of Nursing Management

Management and leadership styles play an important role in contemporary nursing. Various theories exist regarding this topic. As such, there are a variety of styles that the nursing manager may choose from. However, success in nursing management is not found in settling on one particular style. Rather, it is found in being flexible and adaptable to the variety of situations which arise in the nursing environment. Marson, Hartlebury, Johnston & Scammell (1990) refer to this flexibility as a "balance of styles." These authors note that no one style is better than the others, "but each may be more appropriate and effective in a given situation" (p. 37). According to these authors, a balance of styles exists whenever a nursing manager is able to use the right style "on the right occasion with the right people" (p. 37).

Phifer (1990) claims that there are seven basic managerial styles in the field of nursing. These styles are descriptively referred to as the "Godfather," the "Ostrich," the "DoItYourselfer," the "Detailer," the "Politician," the "Arbitrator," and the "Eager Beaver." Although people often adopt one of these styles as a guideline for managerial behavior, Phifer claims that sensitivity to a variety of styles is the key to successful management. In her words, each of the seven styles "meets some of the needs of the organization some of the time, but not one of them alone can describe an effective nurse manager" (p. 164). A different style might be more applicable in one situation than it would be in another. For this reason, the manager must be adaptable to various situations. In order to accomplish this, the nursing leader must avoid becoming hooked on one particular managerial style.

This point of view is also expressed by Achenbach and Shepard (1989), who claim that there are only three basic styles in nursing management. These styles are described as authoritarian, laissezfaire and democratic. Of t...

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