Leadership and management are very critical in any organization and particularly the healthcare system since this involves the lives of people directly. A good service at any healthcare facility of which the demand in insatiable is evident in different kinds of settings (multidisciplinary and multicultural settings). A comprehensive understanding of matters that are very critical to the efficiency of management of the healthcare system allows medical practitioners (professionals) to be more efficient in offering services to the diverse groups of staffs and patients.
The Role of Management and Leadership
The management team is responsible for the implementation of policies and critical decision making. These roles include provision of services to the patients and the performance of the staff as well. Generally, the management and leadership structure includes the corporate management team which has a mandate to implement the corporate objectives of the healthcare Boards and make sure that the workers are involved in a continuous process of communication, transformational leadership, consultation and team work (Cohen 2003)
The major role of the management towards the staff is to ensure that there is better delivery of health care services to the clients; this is achieved by establishing a critical shift in the way the healthcare providers function. The process of decision making and the flow of information are very essential here. This means that the management has to develop strategies that change with time and the way people do. To improve the service delivery, the workers should constantly be trained on new or emerging technology in the ever changing medical field (Jones 2007).
Reforms are integral part of the management function towards the employees and patients and as such, the NHS boards have on several occasions engaged in dialogue with the hospitals and other healthcare institutions as well as including the staff in the process of developing, shaping and changing the healthcare service provision (Cohen 2003). All the stakeholders are involved in this changes; three pillars are associated with effective changes i.e. the management, the working staff and the community. The management takes responsibility of providing the staff with relevant information, providing training facilities and other related programs, including the staff in an all encompassing process of decision making, improve the working condition of the workforce as well as providing clinical treatment and evaluations.
Statement of Issue
Over the years, healthcare quality enhancement has been replete with cases of projects whereby a team or teams targets to achieve better services in one or even several dimensions of quality in a certain unit, ward, or even offices for specific conditions or diseases. The current healthcare systems in many places is that which can be described as being multidisciplinary because of many departments in the facility and/or multicultural because of the diverse ethnic origin of the people including workers and the patients (Cohen 2003)
In order to be able to function well in this type of environment especially as a leader, one needs to be well equipped with the relevant tools of management and in this case we will research on the leadership theories and management traits.
Specific Leadership Theories and Management Traits
There are two leadership theories that have been identified as being relevant to the healthcare system. These theories are the Action focused Leadership and the Contingency theory. Basically the researcher who is also the author used traditional methods of data collection which included observational study where data is collected without any manipulation of the ensuring factors like the experimental procedures. Quantitative data collection was basically collected by use of face to face and telephone interviews and questionnaires (Jones 2007). The working staffs of several healthcare facilities were contacted to give information about the leadership and management in their place of work. The open ended questionnaires were used because they are more interactive and have less protocol when answering where the respondents are not restricted as well.
The action centered leadership is targeted to mainly attaining the task (fulfilling the duty), team building and maintaining the group and also to develop individuals. These three concepts should be balanced. In the healthcare environment, many workers indicated that they depended on the leaders to assist them to achieve certain common duties, build teams that work together and to also react to individual requirements. This is because of the fact that one person cannot execute certain tasks and this calls for work groups, the teams also need to be encouraged constantly to helps retain cohesiveness and also make sure that they function effectively (Jones 2007). The individual needs to be considered here are the salaries, respect, status and recognition.
Characteristics of a Leader in this Context; the healthcare systems is a very sensitive industry because of the functions it carries are very critical to life and any mistake may be inconsistent with survival and hence the leadership and management of such industry is very essential. Apparently, a good leader should be a good manager as well. These traits include; influence- good leaders are those who are able to generate the willingness in the people to work and accomplish certain tasks; judgment- a good leader sis that who is able to arrange the resources available and the information given in a methodical way to bring out effective outcomes; responsibility- a good leader demonstrates sustained enthusiasm and confidence that can be counted on to achieve certain goals or accomplish some tasks; coolness- a good leader always remains composed even during very tough moments; and command- a better leader is able to make faster decisions, be firm and show strength in purpose (Sullivan & Decker 2004).
The action centered theory of leadership has several strong points and they include; setting the task where leaders are expected to display the zeal as he/she leads the activity; leaders under this theory are very accountable for a group of other individuals; the leaders also get to delegate duties, plan the job, design tasks, assess progress and monitor the work process to guarantee teams commitment. The main advantages of this theory are that it’s timeless and does not depend on situation of culture (Sullivan & Decker 2004). The biggest disadvantage is that, action centered theory is considered very authoritarian and hence not appropriate in the civilized work areas.
Contingency theory: this theory purport that efficient leadership should be a function appropriate match between the leadership style of the leaders as pertaining his interactions with other works and also to the extend to which the leaders gains control and influence him/her. Basically this theory can be best explained by the way a leader describes the last individual he/she enjoyed working with. This theory also works based of three factors and they include; respect for workers, organized tasks and control over the workers and process of employment (Jones 2007)
Since leadership is basically the exercise of power to influence others with slightest effort, this social influence is what brings out the difference as to how favorable the condition of leadership is for the leader. The strong point of this theory is the fact that it puts emphasis on the significance of the situation and to the traits of the leaders to determine his efficiency. It’s also the first theory to clear present contingency model. On the other hand, this theory has the disadvantage of failing to reflect the personality traits that could have intended to show (Sullivan & Decker 2004). In some cases it viewed as only replacing leader as the sole means of solving disparity between leader point of reference and unfavorable situation. Other models are discussed below as well
Power and Influence Theory: This theory takes into consideration the extent and the nature of authority that the leader has and the degree to which this power can cause effect or influence the employees (colleagues, superiors, and subordinates), and people from outside the facility. Under this theory, there are about five types of power that have been proposed; reward, legitimate, coercive, referent and expert (Sullivan & Decker 2004).
Leader Participation Model: this comprises a strategy of evaluating the relevant level of participation of followers in the process of decision making in a certain circumstance of situation.
Situational theory: this model codify some ideologies of leadership as contextual skills, purporting that there is no single style of organizational framework that would suit all the conditions, with collection of leadership skills relevant to achieving the desired results in a variety of situations (Sullivan & Decker 2004) In particular, there are four main styles under this and they include; directive, participative, supportive, directive and achievement oriented.
Appreciating Multidisciplinary and Multicultural Aspects
In most cases, the exercise of leadership is seen whenever there is a problem or conflicts. Generally, conflicts emerge in the broader context of the organization such as the healthcare system. When this happens, it means that the issue becomes a collective responsibility of the organization and requires commitment to be able to manage it (Olthuis & Heteren 2003) Due to the multidisciplinary nature of many healthcare facilities, its very necessary to embrace the normative role where management of conflicts arising from these differences must run from the top management position to the lowest.
The healthcare facilities are basically prominent places in the society. The public is mandated to help the healthcare as part of community facility. In some instances, the multidisciplinary nature of many healthcare facilities usually evokes conflict and also in the team function due to the multicultural nature of the workforce (Porter-O’Grady & Wilson 1999). These conflicts are natural and mostly inevitable. Good leadership is essential to ensuring that group decision making is not affected. Though many managers would treat conflict as a threat to the healthcare system, it’s desirable. This brings an opportunity to examine various perspectives, differentiating substantive from personal problems and to identify the underlying tension hence this discrepancies may serve as a road to success (Olthuis & Heteren 2003).
The role of managers in the event of conflict is to recognize the normative role played by disagreement. In order to keep the workplace healthy and conducive for doing some job, these conflicts have to be addressed. The multicultural nature and multidisciplinary aspect of healthcare facility needs very careful and skilled management. This is because conflict can be a source of destruction for the whole system it thing get out of control. In a multidisciplinary environment, there is likelihood of interactions of the members among themselves and also with the system. (Porter-O’Grady & Wilson 1999) The diversity can spark conflict but if handled properly by good managers, this can be a way through which the team can draw inferences about the tasks with regard to clients (patients), other institutions, providers and the society.
Leadership is an authority. People entrusted with managing conflicts in a company, team or group of people are usually required to have strong conflict control skills and identification of important principle that elimination of disagreements may either be impossible or undesirable. Effective leaders and managers usually identify the aspects, processes, opportunities during the early stages of a transaction and works out. It’s imperative to appreciate the fact that conflict is a result of misunderstandings or task, function and not necessarily from failure to execute the tasks allocated (Porter-O’Grady & Wilson 1999).
Other than having good leaders, efficient managers and inbuilt frameworks for the organization to tackle management problems and other conflicts, awareness and training should be offered about how to manage conflicts and to incorporate these attributes to the work group is very necessary. An interdisciplinary strategy with common values and conceptual structure that surpasses multidisciplinary boundaries and hierarchies will be able to address conflicts (Olthuis & Heteren 2003). Different viewpoints are recognized for growth opportunities and also explore assumptions that provide information to these rather than unproductive concession and deficient solutions.
Diversity in terms of multidisciplinary and/or multicultural differences usually is a normative expression of the nature of humankind and is also relevant for team work and other programmed function. As generally identified, the ultimate purpose of healthcare facilities is to provide care to patients. Concentrating on common values and structures, contrary to enhancing diverse perspective brought at hand; committed managers and very skilled leaders form the key components to efficient team and provision of care. The organization should also be committed to problem solving and also to develop and inbuilt conflict management experts and system
Cohen B. (2003). Virtual Teams that Work Creating Conditions for Virtual Team Effectiveness. NetLibrary Inc Jossey-Bass San Francisco 2003
Jones R.P (2007). Nursing Leadership and Management. Theories Processes and Practice. West Suburban College of Nursing. Oak Park. Illinois.
Olthuis G & Heteren G (2003). Multicultural Health care in Practice. Journal of healthcare analysis. An Empirical Exploration of Multicultural care in the Netherlands. Springer publishers. Vol 11. No. 3
Porter-O’Grady T & Wilson C. (1999). Leading the Revolution in Healthcare. Igniting performance, changing systems. Aspen Publishers Gaithersburg MD
Sullivan E.J & Decker P.J (2004). Effective Leadership and Management in Nursing. Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference