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J Nurs Manag. 2004 Nov;12(6):436-44.

Learning for clinical leadership.

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1
Learning and Teaching, Health Care Education Development Unit, St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery, City University, London, UK. m.j.cook@city.ac.uk

Abstract

Clinical leadership has been acclaimed widely as a major factor influencing the quality of patient care but research has revealed a paucity of preparation for this significant role. Leadership literature has rarely addressed clinical leadership specifically or referred to the difficulties in characterizing effective clinical leaders. The research informing this paper focused on clinical leadership and identified five attributes of effective clinical leaders: creativity, highlighting, influencing, respecting, and supporting. Effective clinical leaders adopted a transformational leadership style and improved care, through others, by including transformational (soft) knowledge as an integral part of their effective practice repertoire. Phronesis is introduced as practical wisdom that is gained through immersion in relevant experience, and as an essential element of preparation for clinical nursing leadership practice. It is argued, that learning to transform care requires opportunities to work within an environment that engenders and supports aspiring leaders. The paper describes the research process, elucidates the attributes through illustrative examples from the research data, and discusses an emergent educational strategy for the development of these attributes by clinicians in their practice environments. The paper also describes the application of this research through an interdisciplinary programme for staff leading teams in both health and social services sectors.

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