Improve on my leader

This assignment draws on the critical analysis of my leadership approach, to develop a vision led action plan to improve on my leadership. The plan for the assignment starts with a brief description of my work context and my approach to leadership in that context. Following this is my vision statement. It then identifies what I need to take action on, in order to develop my leadership potentials, to bring about a change in line with my vision and to be responsible to ongoing changes in the unit.

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Focusing on two areas of my leadership influence I have stated the goals and analytically discuss the goals with related actions. A list of my tasks in a time sequence for the next 2 years to accomplish each goal is given at the end of the discussion. The assignment concludes by giving overview of my leadership development and how by applying the new perspective and creating new possibilities I can rise to the challenge of being effective leader.


I work in a 48 bed elderly mentally infirm unit, which provide care for people who suffer dementia. The clients are admitted into the long term care unit having been assessed as being unable to manage independently at home or relatives are no longer able to cope with caring at home. A multidisciplinary placement review organised by a care manager or named nurse takes place 6 weeks after admission and 6 monthly thereafter. The unit has a consultant psychiatrist who regularly reviews all clients and an in house general practitioner who meets the therapeutic needs of the clients on individual basis. Supervised practice training for NVQ level 2 and NVQ level 3 is provided in the unit.

Relatives meetings are held monthly to enable them voice their views. I have become a leader in the unit due to situational factors. My role includes being responsible for the unit during my shift, leading and supervising the junior staff, mentoring the newly employed international nurses and maintaining and improving the care of the clients. Considering my wider role and the way the focus changes from one role to the other, my approach to leadership reflects that of Situational Leadership (Hersey et al, 1996, cited in the Study Guide pg 37) and Action Centred Leadership (Adair, 1988, cited in the Study Guide pg 34).

Hersey and Blanchard propose that the best style of management is dependent upon the environment in which it is used and furthermore that leaders are responsible for fostering growth and development both in themselves and others. Adair argues that leadership involves three interrelated areas of need, the individual, team, task and that leader’s function is to be aware of and to manage the tensions caused by this conflicting needs.

Working previously as a health visitor and visiting older people in relation to psychological health and well being I am aware that older people have poor continuity of care with little focus for their individual needs. Reflecting on two areas of my leadership influence which are working with change in older people and providing leadership to junior staff and NVQ candidates, random ideas have flooded my mind and two appears to have captured my heart and imagination and have evolved into a vision for the next two years of my working life. My vision is that older people with mental health will live an active life within their limits.

They will have opportunity to enhance their quality of life plus support and stimulation to help them maximise their potentials and physical capacity. We will do something differently or better in commitment to making the change. I will extend my professional and learning needs and that of my followers to enable us work together as a team with appropriate knowledge. The behaviour that will bring the vision into being are motivation, sharing, encouraging and knowledge in specific areas of specialty.

From the critical analysis of my leadership, it has become clear to me that there are areas I could be more effective in my leadership role which I perceive can be developed in order to become effective leader. These areas include motivation of staff, developing new role, decision-making, creativity in problem solving and net working. Having identified these areas as my goals, I have chosen to focus on three of them meanwhile that link to areas of my leadership influence where I would like to get better while holding the others in reserve.


My first goal is to develop my motivation skills. Considering the environment in my work context where my position power appears limited, I see using motivation as a tool for leadership effectiveness. In my practice context a range of activities have been designed to promote active life in accordance to National Service Framework (2001) guidelines. However most of the time the clients are sitting in the lounge slouching into their chairs supposedly watching the television or they are wandering around the unit. Rarely do they walk out of the doors to sit in the garden and rarely do relatives come to take them for outings.

The climax was ordering wheelchairs for three mobile residents. I believe the clients have need to be out more often in the community, walking in the park, playing games in the field and visiting places of interest. This notion appears to be supported by Adair’s statement that leader’s function is to be aware of needs and to manage tensions caused by conflicting needs. Having these set of needs and being incapable of communicating these is a challenge. I have personal value of being happily occupied and doing a bit of exercise. This value appears to be in line with the organisation’s culture hence, the employment of a part time activity organiser.

However the area of difference appears to be on safety issues. Management is very concerned about their safety. It is understandable that there is a risk in encouraging a demented unsteady client to be come mobile. However Faulkner (1996) argues that decreased mobility carries a risk of pressure sore and if individual does not move mental stimulation may decrease leading to apathy. It appears the organisational culture may not allow activities necessary to bring about a change in their physical activity. As Girvin (1998) suggests, there is need for people to interpret the same way and share the hopes, fears and expectations.

Adair (1998) points to a leader being able to manage the tensions caused by conflicting needs. There seem to be a conflicting need which I have to find a way to resolve. For this to be successful I need to develop my motivation skills and be able to practice motivating and influencing the staff and my manager to provide services that will promote active life and reduce the problem of immobility as well as maintaining safety in the process. Also some of the clients need to be motivated to participate in the activities using effective non- verbal communication skills. I intend to use the National Services Framework policy partly as a backup for my actions.

As a routine when a client is admitted care plans for mobility and activity are written for that client. However the problem lies in ensuring that the action plans are implemented. I intend to assist any client I observe giving cues to stand and mobilise by holding the client’s hands if unstable on his/her feet and assist the client to walk. This is to set a personal example of what I expect of others. I will coach the staff to do the same and to go round every 2-3 hours encouraging and motivating the clients to stand up from their chairs for a while to avoid developing complication due to immobility. Coaching and encouraging the staff will help in acquiring the skills to implement the change. I have to ensure that I am creative in my action plan in order to motivate people. According to Girvin (1998) motivation is crucial issue when considering the future of leadership.

As a leader I find motivation apparently useful in promoting active life in older people because in the care of older people with dementia, at times a sense of despair can set in when the client has been with one for a long time. There appears to be no evident gained in well being to encourage the client to continue to be mobile and active. According to Porter and Lawler (1968) model of motivation, the amount of effort put into an activity depends upon the value of the reward together with the amount of energy a person believes is required and the probability of getting the reward (cited in Girvin, 1998). In the words of Girvin, “Is the end worth the effort”?

Arguably my personal motivation is to make a difference in bringing about a change. The clients have to be encouraged with mobility until they can no longer manage. It is possible to keep the clients active with simple task in the early stages of there admission. I intend to undertake a thorough exploration of motivation theories in the library in order to be knowledgeable on how to motivate people.

My next action is to identify through informal and formal discussion with staff and relatives that what I intend to motivate them on, is what they are interested in. This is in line with Porter and Lawler model of motivation. Additionally I intend to learn and use Charvet’s (1997) six categories of motivation traits to influence staff and relatives. As suggested in the Study Guide (pg 117) I will listen for Charvet’s motivation traits in everyday life and tryout the kinds of influencing languages.