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The Softer Side of Leadership

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MARGARET HOULIHAN, HEAD NURSE on the TV sitcom M*A*S*H*, is a perfect example of how nurse leaders used to be. Margaret is a dictator. When she faces a problem, she faces it alone, never involving her staff in finding a solution. Instead, Margaret sits up nights internalizing the problem, and later, she rudely barks her orders at the nursing staff. Margaret's communications are unilateral; she gives orders and the staff listens. The staff nurses do not feel worthy enough to make suggestions or offer help because it is not Margaret's style to listen. Kerfoot calls this type of leadership "command and control."1 We can all probably name at least one controlling manager we have known. Many nurses today still prefer this structured style of leadership because accountability rests completely with the manager.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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