Historical influences still permeate contemporary nursing practise. These are mirrored in organizational philosophies, transactional and autocratic leadership styles and disempowered staff. Whilst there is disparity amongst the theorists’ definitions of leadership, there is consensus pertaining to the attributes necessary to realize effective leadership. Transformational leadership is heralded as new criterion for nurse managers, and can be achieved through training, education and professional development in key leadership competencies. To achieve a chain reaction, charismatic transformational leaders espouse intellectual stimulation and individual consideration to empower staff and enhance patient care. Nurse managers that develop and foster transformational leadership can surmount oppressive traditions and confidently navigate a complex and rapidly changing health care environment.