Transformational leadership and shared governance: an action study



    1. Joint Head of Nursing, School of Health Care Practice, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
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  • CHERYLE MOSS RN, BAppSc, GradDipEdAdmin, MSc, PhD, FRCNA

    1. Associate Professor of Nursing, Research and Practice Development, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
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Anita Bamford-Wade
School of Health Care Practice
Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences
PO Box 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand


bamford-wade a. & moss c. (2010) Journal of Nursing Management18, 815–821
Transformational leadership and shared governance: an action study

Aims  The present study demonstrates the practical relevance of the concepts of transformational leadership as a Director of Nursing working with structure (shared governance) and active processes, informed by action research, to achieve the incremental breakthroughs associated with culture change in nursing.

Background  Responding to the context of a decade of health reforms in a New Zealand tertiary hospital, the leadership challenge, as a Director of Nursing, was to find ways of transforming the nursing workforce. How could nursing evolve from a relatively disempowered position within the organization (impact of the reforms) and reshape to achieve effectiveness within the new organizational culture?

Methods  Interwoven with transformational leadership are action processes progressively moving forward through cycles of reconnaissance, planning, implementation and evaluation. The principles of shared governance ‘partnership’, ‘equity’, ‘accountability’ and ‘ownership’ underpin and work synchronically with the active processes in advancing the effectiveness of nursing. It is leadership for and in action. This study is descriptive and exploratory overall, and more specifically it uses reflective practice and self-reporting as methods.

Results  The outcomes of transformational leadership are evident in a confident, competent and committed nursing workforce which embraces continuous learning and expresses a professional respect for each other.

Conclusions  The practical inter-weaving of the concepts of transformational leadership, shared governance and action processes provide a framework for sustainable change processes both at a unit and organizational level.

Implications for nursing management  It is the interplay between the three concepts that generates a process of creative innovation, questioning and challenging existing structures to try and reach a new level of excellence through the participation and valuing of nurses and nursing practice.