Every beginner should be guided by an expert. In every aspect of nursing, our actions should be accurate and factual, and as every one of us should start at the beginning, there would always be one person that would serve as our preceptor or a leader that we should follow at least while we are still newbies in our field.
Every mentor is unique, and they may have attitudes and characteristics that define them and how they lead a team. Be prepared for getting to know and dealing with them with these rundown on the most common types of nurse leaders that may manage you in your unit.
1. Commanding and Imposing: Autocratic Style
It’s your first day on your first job as a staff nurse. After four years of toiling and sleeping late, you finally grabbed hold of your license as a registered nurse. Another reason to celebrate is that you acquired a job as a staff nurse at your local medical facility. You are as excited as a three-year-old who is about to go on her first carousel ride.
Introductions with your team were made, you were briefed with the hospital’s protocols, and you were already assigned to a preceptor who will guide you and look over you for a couple of weeks. Her first sentence to you is, “Check Patient A’s vital signs and empty her bedpan. Do your bedside care and report back to me for the patient’s medications. Call me, and only me, if you need anything. Understood?”
Student nurses and new nurses alike might be already cowering on their seats if they encounter a so-called “terror” preceptor. These mentors love to order their juniors around. They make decisions without reference from the other members of the team, and this is because they want to do things as quickly as they could.
Authoritative, that is the right word for this kind of preceptor, and they are best to have around during emergent situations. However, they could intimidate new members of the team and might demotivate them, which could lead to absenteeism and staff turnover.
2. Encouraging and Engaging: Democratic Style
The unit is already receiving a lot of negative feedbacks from the patients and folks. The staff is nearing burnout, there are high levels of absenteeism, staff morale is low and they are losing the tender, loving care they should include in their everyday tasks.
Your unit manager called for a meeting before the shift and laid out the problems that the unit is facing. Since she can see the state of her staff, “I know you are all nearing burnout, and you must be really demotivated. We have to rise above this situation, so I called upon you to help me and our unit to gain back our optimism. Do you any ideas on how we can overcome our state?” team members were able to vent out their frustrations and give suggestions on how they can regain their motivations back. The unit manager chose the best option that they had and arranged for it to be implemented. In no time at all, the team is back on their feet with an extra swing to their walk.
This is the perfect demonstration of how a democratic leader moves around her unit. They always include team members in their decision-making and as a result, the members are always motivated and satisfied with their job. This kind of preceptor is encouraging creativity, and her subordinates are very engaged in their tasks. However, this is not ideal for emergency situations when you need a quick decision.
3. Detached and Easy-Going: Laissez-Faire Style
As a new nurse in the unit, you are quite cautious and afraid to plunge into the nursing interventions and bedside tasks required of you. You approach your nurse preceptor assigned to you and asked if she could observe you while you do a procedure. “I know you can do it, don’t worry too much. Just let me know if you are already done with your tasks. You are a bright girl. You know what to do.” Uh-oh.
Your nurse preceptor obviously has a lot of trust in you, which is why she gives you a lot of freedom to go ahead of your task. This kind of preceptor adapts the style of Laissez-faire. They would let you decide on what you would want to do with your tasks and lets you set deadlines.
“They would let you decide on what you would want to do with your tasks and lets you set deadlines.”
These mentors are supportive and are approachable, but they don’t want to get involved with your responsibilities. This can inspire a high level of satisfaction, but if the team members lack the skill and the knowledge, it could be damaging to the whole group. Also, if the nurse doesn’t have effective time management skills, they would have a difficult time in achieving their goals.
4. Meticulous and Precise: Bureaucratic Style
The hospital you are working in is undergoing a change in the administrative management. The administrative officials and the board of directors are arranging a new set of protocols and rules and regulations for the hospital, and many procedures are undergoing transition. Your unit manager asked all of you to adhere to the new rules and regulations, however inconvenient they are, since all of you are used to the old ways. “I know we are all used to the rules and regulations that were laid to us when we first entered this institution. But now that they have been innovated, we must adhere to what our policies and procedures dictate. I will never tolerate any breaking of the rules; sanctions would be immediately processed for those who would do so,” the unit manager told her team members.
This kind of preceptor is a strict follower of the rules; they want the policies to be followed strictly and precisely. They always brief their team members on the importance of following the rules and regulations and are quick to punish those who break them. This is a bureaucratic way of handling a team and very effective for members who perform routine tasks.
5. Inspiring and Motivating: Transformational Style
Today is your first day on your new job as a nurse at a medical facility. Your nurse preceptor oriented you, and you noticed how she interacted with the team. She calls the attention of a team member who is always absent, and you heard her talking to the nurse, “I noticed that your absences have increased lately. I understand that you are going through rough patches in your life, but your job and your career could be your stepping stone in solving your problems. You must endeavor to deliver the best performance you can give, and always remember that we are always behind your back every step of the way.”
This is the kind of preceptor that every nurse wants to have. The type of nurse preceptor who is humble, emphatic, and inspiring. This nurse preceptor uses a transformational leadership style. They expect the best from their team members and are highly approachable. They also teach the team to be accountable for their actions and exhibits good conflict resolution skills. This is probably the most effective style to use in handling a team. But this style should always fit every situation the team is under; otherwise, it would be less effective and would have less impact on the productivity of the team.
We always need to undergo a time where we should be guided so we could achieve the optimum performance expected from us. We would encounter all sorts of managers and leaders, and always remember to act with reason when dealing with every person. We may like or dislike them, yet it is never a reason to disrespect and undermine their attitude. They know what is ultimately good for the entire unit, and for now, we should be safely ensconced under their wings until we learn how to fly high without them.