Leadership and Management Concepts


Leadership and management concepts enable individuals in formal or informal organizations to influence people to get tasks done. As a leader, a nurse has his or her priority to get tasks performed. To be able to exercise leadership, nurses must; understand their objectives and have established plans to achieve them; establish committed teams to realize the objectives; assist team members and to realize their great potential. All nurse managers involve in management functions. They execute a number of activities related to achieving organizational objectives and work. In formal organizations, managers emanate from leadership class, that is, derive their power from positions they hold. Nurse mangers-leaders hold directive or appointive positions in health care organizations (Huber, 2006). Their appointment is dependent on both technical and leadership competencies, mostly requiring both to be accepted. Managers perform structured managerial functions such as; planning, organizing, directing or leading, and controlling or evaluating. On the other hand, informal leaders by contrast are not always managers executing those managerial functions (Whitehead, 2008).

Nurse Managers focus on results, analysis of future tasks, and management features that are desirable in healthcare systems. Effective nursing managers need to be good leaders. Managers and leaders constantly seek for information, provide positive feedback, and are well conversant with the power of groups. Managers/leaders tolerate mistakes as they challenge their subjects to realize their full potential. This paper discusses leadership and management functions relevant for nursing managers (Kelly, 2008).

Management Functions of a Nurse Manager

Success of management depends on learning and using the management functions. Nurse Manager’s plan, organizes, staff, direct and controls their departments. These functions represent activities expected of managers in all fields. Managers develop skills in the implementation of these functions as they gain experience in managerial roles. Nurse Managers also use the same functions as they fulfill their responsibilities in healthcare institutions (Kelly, 2008).

Planning Function

Planning is a technical managerial function that enables health organizations to deal with the present and anticipate the future. It is the first and fundamental function of management because all other management functions are dependent on it. As planners, nurse managers are involved in deciding what is to be done, when it is to be done, how it is to be done and who is to do it. It is an orderly process that gives organizational direction. Nurse Managers implement the planning process to establish how the department will contribute to achievement of organizational goals. Planning is the process of determining exactly what the organization will do to accomplish its objectives. Sullivan (1992) defines planning as a procedural development of action programs targeted at achieving established objectives. Managers’ analyze, evaluate and select among the available opportunities through planning process..

Planning purpose involves; providing organizational direction, improving efficiency, eliminating duplication efforts, prioritizing resource utilization, and minimizing guess work. Effective planning procedure enables smooth flow of communication and coordination of management activities (Swansburg, 2002). Planning responsibilities in nursing vary at each level of organization, for instance: in strategic planning, top-level managers, formulate long-term strategic planning to reinforce the firm’s mission (Swansburg, 2002). Strategic plans are specified for five years period or more; in tactical planning, middle level managers are responsible for translating strategies into shorter term tactics. They translate strategic plans into measurable tactical objectives in operational planning, managers are concerned with refinement of tactical objectives in which work is defined and results measured in small increments. This type of planning is accomplished by first line managers. They mostly deal with budgets, quotas and schedules. In order to fulfill her/his own job responsibilities and to guide subordinates towards agency goals, the nurse manager must spend scarce materials and human resources wisely. Since the nursing service operation in even a small agency is immensely complicated, careful planning is needed to avoid waste, confusion and error.

Nurse manager-leader must ensure that they understand the planning process. This process includes nursing guidelines that provide a general pattern of rational planning, such as; environmental assessments, where they analyze the past, present and future challenges that affect the organization. The guideline also helps to manage inside interests such as doctors, administrators and others; establishment of objectives, where they ensure that every plan has the primary purpose of assisting the organization to succeed through effective management (Huber, 2006).

These objectives must be well defined with characteristics which are specific, measurable, realistic and challenging, and definite time period; involvement of management and staff to deduce better plans and generate wide spread acceptance of stated objectives; alternative development guidelines to generate several plan options for managers to consider. They involve alternative courses of action that can achieve the same result. The chosen courses of action must be feasible, realistic and sufficient; communication of plans as planning demands elaborate and effective communication at all organizational levels before commencement of performance to meet expectations. This communication of objectives and written plans will give employees direction. Nurse-managers-leaders in healthcare institutions communicate plans in two ways; use standing plans applied on a continuous basis to achieve consistently repeated objectives; and use single plans to fulfill unique objectives (Whitehead, 2008).

Standing plans are usually in the form of established policies, procedures and rules. Different organizations have established policies which offer broad guidelines for directing management thoughts towards implementation consistent with attaining organizational objectives (Swansburg, 2002). They provide guidelines for employee’s behavior. They are also instruments of delegation that remind subordinates to their obligations. Effective policy statements are clear, understandable, stable over time, and communicated to everyone involved (Whitehead, 2008).

Procedures define a series of related actions that must be taken to perform specific jobs (Swansburg, 2002). It is an explicit set of actions, often sequential in nature, required to achieve a well defined result. Formal procedures provide specific and detailed instructions for the execution of plans (Huber, 2006). Good procedures provide a sequence of actions that once completed fulfill specific objectives, reinforce policies and help employees achieve results efficiently and safely.

Rules represent specific actions that are required to be followed. They point what organization members should or should not do (Whitehead, 2008). They close any window of interpretation (rules are rules). They restrict actions and prescribe specific activities with no discretion. Rules usually have a single purpose and are written to guarantee a particular way of behaving. Single use plans are adopted to attain unique objectives. These objectives are normally repeated. They are usually communicated through programs, budget, and schedule (Kelly, 2008).

Management Function of Organizing

Organizing may be defined as the arranging of component parts into functioning whole (Huber, 2006). The purpose of organizing is to coordinate activities so that a goal can be achieved. The terms “planning” and “organizing” are often used synonymously. For example, organizing is considered step in the nursing process; however, planning is the second. In the managerial process (i.e., managerial theory of leadership, planning is considered the first step and organizing, the second. In the managerial, planning is the determination of what is to be accomplished, and organizing is the determination of how it will be accomplished (Marguis, 2008).

In the nursing process, planning includes writing objectives, setting priorities, and determining activities to meet the objectives (Whitehead, 2008). Thus, organizing may be considered part of the planning, even though it is not specifically identified. Planning, and thus organizing, may be viewed as being part of all processes, including the leadership process. Thus, planning and organizing may be said to answer the what, why, how, when, and where questions about specific activities. Steps in organizing process include: establishment of overall objectives; formulation of supporting objectives, policies and plans; Identification and classification of activities necessary to accomplish the objectives; grouping activities in light of the human and material resources available and the best way of using them under the circumstances; delegating to the head of each group and the authorities necessary to perform the activities; and tying the groups together horizontally and vertically, through authority relationships, and information systems (Marguis, 2008).

Management function of Staffing

Staffing is an activity of management that provides for appropriate and adequate personnel to achieve organization’s objectives. The nurse manager decides how many and what type of personnel are required to provide care for patients (Huber, 2006). The overall plan for staffing is determined by nursing administration. Therefore, the nurse manager is in a position to monitor how successful the staffing pattern is as to provide input into needed change. Staffing is a complex activity that involves ensuring that the ratio of nurse to patient provides quality care (Whitehead, 2008). The situation of a nursing shortage and the high activity levels of admitted patients to acute care areas complicate this process. Staffing depends directly on the workload or patient care needs. An ideal staffing plan would provide the appropriate ratio of caregivers for patients’ individual needs based on data that predict the census (Kelly, 2008).

Management Function of Directing

Directing is a function of the manager that gets work done through others. Directing includes five specific concepts; giving directions, supervising, leading, motivating, and communicating, as described below: giving directions is the first activity and suggests that directions should be clear, concise and consistent and should confirm to the requirements of the situation (Whitehead, 2008). The nurse manager should be aware of the tone of the directives. Different types of situations require different emphasis. For example, an emergency situation calls for different variation of voice than does a routine request; supervising is concerned with the training and discipline of the work force. It also includes follow up to ensure the prompt execution of orders; leading is the ability to inspire and to influence others t the attainment of objectives; motivating is the set of skills the manager uses to help the employee to identify his/her needs and finds ways within the organization to help satisfy them; communicating: involves the what, how, by whom, and why of directives or effectively using the communication process (Marguis, 2008).

Controlling as a Management Function

Controlling is a function of all managers at all levels. Its basic objective is to ensure that the task to be accomplished is appropriately executed. Control involves establishing standards of performance, determining the means to be used in measuring performance, evaluating performance, and providing feedback of performance data to the individual so behavior can be changed (Kelly, 2008).

Management by objectives (MBO) can be considered as a control mechanism. Based on MBO principle-determining objectives (standards) against which performance can be measured can be stated (Whitehead, 2008). Second, specific measures have to be established to determine whether these objectives are met. Third, the actual accomplishment of the objectives would be measured in relation to the standard and this information would be fed back to the individual. Then corrective action could be taken.


In summary, managers exercise roles that drive institutions toward attainment of set goals and objectives. Every organization is formed to accomplish set purpose or objective (Sullivan, 1993). Therefore, it is the responsibility of managers to harness organizational resources available to accomplish the set goals. Organizations are driven by management toward these goals by efficiently assigning tasks that organization staff performs (Swansburg, 2002). If managers establish these organizational activities effectively, the resourcefulness of individual employee indicates a contribution to the overall achievement of organizational goals (Huber, 2006)). Managers exist in organizations to enhance individual activities that result in achievement of organizational goals. They also exist to prevent individual activities that could play hindrance to accomplishment of organizational goals.

. Good leaders, like good managers, provide visionary inspiration, motivation, and direction. Good managers, like good leaders, attract and inspire (Marguis, 2008). They strive to accomplish goals and values they consider worthwhile. Therefore, they want leaders who respect the dignity, autonomy, and self-esteem of followers (Kelly, 2008).

Reference List

Huber, D. (2006). Leadership and Nursing Care Management. Sydney: Wolter Kluwer Health.

Kelly, P. (2008). Essentials for Nursing Leadership. New York: Cengage Learning.

Marguis, D., & Huston, C.(2008). Leadership Roles and Management Functions in Nursing Care. Sydney: Wolter Kluwer Health.

Sullivan, J. E., & Decker, J. P. (1992). Effective Management in Nursing.: California: Addison Wesley.

Swansburg, R, (2002). Introduction to Management and Leadership for Nurse Managers. New York:: Jones and Bartlett Pub..

Whitehead, D., Weiss, S., & Tappen, R. (2008). Essentials of Nursing Leadership and Management. Sydney: Elsevier.