Leadership in the nursing unit: relationships with nurses’ well-being


Dr NPG Boumans, Assistant Professor, Limburg University, Faculty of Nursing Science, PO Box 616 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands


The head nurse occupies an important position in the nursing unit Concerning leadership style, a distinction is traditionally made between consideration and initiating structure Sometimes a third style is distinguished as well, namely ‘production-orientated’ leadership In a study of 561 nurses from 16 general hospitals in The Netherlands, the influence of two leadership styles upon the reactions of nurses (job satisfaction, experienced meaningfulness, health complaints and absenteeism) to their work situations was examined, namely the styles of social (i e consideration) and instrumental leadership (a combination of the styles initiating structure and production-onentated) The separate effects of the two styles were studied, as well as the connection between combinations of leadership styles and reactions The results indicate that social leadership contributes positively to nurses’ reactions to their job Instrumental leadership, on the other hand, leads to health complaints From the analyses of combinations of leadership styles it appears that nurses are most satisfied if the head nurse pays much attention to both dimensions of leadership For health complaints, a tendency in this directions is also found Finally, it becomes clear that nurses with a great need for autonomy prefer a different type of leadership from nurses with little need for autonomy