Differences between transactional and transformational leadership in healthcare

Differences between transactional and transformational leadership in healthcare

When looking at leadership types in any industry, it is best not to look at them as good and bad techniques, but rather look at how each can help enhance the industry and lead an organization into a successful future. The healthcare industry is no different, and there are leaders who employ a transactional technique to lead, while others are more open to transformational leadership when dealing with their staff. An effective leader will recognize that both have their place in the healthcare system, and each has its own benefits. Skilled leaders can take elements of both styles and effectively use them to benefit their departments.

What is transactional leadership in healthcare?

Transactional leadership employs a philosophy of reinforcement and reward, where a specific goal is assigned to an employee and then a reward is offered when they achieve that goal. It is a transactional relationship between the employee and the manager that recognizes good work in a timely fashion with a reward.

In the healthcare industry, the leader nurse may use transactional leadership techniques to reward or reprimand a staff member with attendance issues. If the staff member is constantly calling in sick, then they may be reprimanded with a written letter in their file, while the nurse who has impeccable attendance may be rewarded with a free day off or a bonus of some sort. Transactional leadership in the healthcare industry is best when trying to maintain a status quo for procedures to help reduce errors.

What is transformational leadership in healthcare?

Transformational leadership focuses on the individual but also creates a strong and invested team. This type of leadership style is grounded in four basic principles commonly referred to as the ‘four Is’:

  • Individual consideration: Teaching and mentoring nursing staff to help them with their own professional development.
  • Intellectual stimulation: Giving employees an opportunity to experience new ways of doing things and also explore their own ideas.
  • Inspirational motivation: Giving employees a sense of ownership within the organization by engaging them. If you are looking at learning more about the ways to inspire and motivate, an MSN in nursing leadership program can open your eyes to different ways of getting the best results from your staff. This degree will also show those working with you that you are committed to becoming an effective leader and leading by example. For working nurses, the program can be part-time and online, coordinated with your existing shifts.
  • Idealized influence: Acting as a role model for how employees should conduct themselves and lead by example.

Transformational leadership focuses on personal and professional growth through mentoring, teaching and leading by example. Rather than a reward system for a job well done, as in the case of transactional leadership, the job itself is the reward. A good leader will recognize the differences in these styles and use both as needed as part of an effective leadership strategy.