• autocratic;
  • Gauteng;
  • hospital;
  • leadership;
  • nursing

Aim  This study was aimed at describing nursing leadership in an academic hospital in Gauteng, South Africa.

Background  Nurse managers’ leadership styles affect nurses’ attitudes, behaviour and work performance. However, little is known about how nurses experience nurse leadership and what leadership styles are found in academic hospitals in Gauteng.

Methods  The study was based on Maxwell’s framework of leadership (relationships, equipping, leadership and attitude). A qualitative design was used in order to describe the experiences of registered nurses and nurse managers. The population of the study was all registered nurses and nurse managers of the hospital in which the study was conducted. In phase one of the study, a discussion group with 35 registered nurses using the nominal group technique was held to respond to the following statement: ‘Please explain how you have experienced leadership by nurse managers in this hospital’. In phase two of the study, five nurse managers were interviewed individually, using a semi-structured interview guide.

Results  Some nurse managers were practising autocratic leadership in this hospital.

Implications for nursing management  The nurse managers need to be taught about contemporary leadership styles such as transformational leadership and visionary leadership and also about supervision, role modelling and caring.