What, if any, viable alternative is there to shared and distributed leadership as an organisational culture within the current health or social care context?
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Shared and distributed leadership as an organisational culture within the current health or social care context
Healthcare is one of many sectors that have embraced leadership as one of the cornerstones of development. Therefore, different healthcare professionals are expected to demonstrate a strong capacity for embracing leadership, such as having a strong sense of shared vision (Goodwin, 2013). Shared leadership can be used by different key players within the healthcare system, such as clinical officers and nurses, to create a conducive environment for the development of individual capacity at a professional level (Kay Brazier, 2005). There is therefore a need to dismantle all hierarchical and vertical leadership models, as this would promote the more individualistic mode of decision making (Howieson and Hodges, 2016). It is worth noting that nurses comprise a section of healthcare employees who play a critical role in determining the successful delivery of appropriate and high-standard services to patients (Weiss et al., 2013). Therefore, any move toward excluding them from key decision making by highly trained professionals such as surgeons and psychiatrics may greatly limit the possibility of the expansion of the sector (O`Neill & King`s Fund, 2013). It would be more appropriate to involve nurses in all aspects of decision making as they may have important contributions to make towards development of the sector. A horizontal leadership structure should be put in place and the hierarchical system dismantled altogether.
It is worth noting that a hierarchical system or leadership model is a more dictatorial leadership style, in which leaders use more individualistic ways of making decisions (Weiss et al., 2013). In healthcare, individualistic leaders are considered the sole source of communication for changes that are deemed appropriate and inevitable for the development of the system (ibid). Communication is conducted in a hierarchical manner, where the authority takes the initiative of directing the juniors on any matter deemed imperative for the development of the healthcare sector (O`Neill and King`s Fund, 2013). Nonetheless, as noted earlier, the method may not be appropriate, as more often than not it has been considered a major bottleneck towards the improvement of service delivery in the healthcare sector (Henochowicz and Hetherington, 2006). Therefore, embracing a horizontal leadership style will encourage both junior and senior healthcare staff to intermingle (Goodwin, 2013). As a result, they will be able to share important ideas that will act as a springboard for the future development of the healthcare system.