Transformational Leadership

An SBAR open letter to nurse leaders


As a travel nurse, I have experienced many different leaders. Some are absent, while some micromanage. Some have no organization or direction, while some are too rigid. I’ve only encountered one leader who actually “gets it.” Only once, have I ever experienced a true transformational leader.

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Having a boss who views your success as their own success should be standard. Having this mindset means that they’ll treat you with respect, be transparent in their communication, and work to make your job easier. Viewing you as an asset rather than a tool means that your concerns are taken seriously, and your suggestions are valid.


I’m nearly halfway through my master’s degree program for nursing administration. I want to share something I found interesting. During the program thus far, we have spent a lot of time discussing different leadership styles. The one which seems to stand out the most is transformational leadership.

If you’re not familiar with the term, it basically means that a person leads with the idea that they support and encourage the people below them rather than just expecting people to follow because they must.

A transformational leader identifies leadership qualities in others and encourages their growth into future leaders. A transformational leader sees their role as a servant, where they achieve their own goals (and the organization’s goals) by helping the people below them succeed. According to this article I found, transformational leadership has four domains, which I’ve summarized here:

1. Idealized influence: they have confidence in themselves and their goals and help build confidence in others. They’re role models. They’re engaging.

2. Inspirational motivation: they set their own standards high and motivate others to meet them. They have grand plans.

3. Intellectual stimulation: they support others and encourage them to be innovative. They support people exploring change even if the change is unpopular or risky.

4. Individualized consideration: they create and maintain an environment in which people feel safe to create and innovate. People are encouraged to be visionaries and think outside of the box.


Younger generations are not satisfied with the status quo. It hasn’t worked for us. We grew up with technology. We grew up with innovation and quickly adapt to change. We think outside of the box. We aren’t happy with “the way it’s always been.”

Why do you think you’ve had such high turnover? It’s easy to blame it on people “chasing the money” to do travel nursing. Yes, we want more money — and we think we deserve it. But it’s more than that. It’s also about our career satisfaction. We want promotions. We want to be valued. We want our input to matter. We want a say in how things are done.

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We don’t want to have to worry about our retirement and 401(k)s. Pay us more. Give us more benefits. I’m talking about pensions. I’m talking about better healthcare plans. I’m talking about better time off options for work/family balance.

We work hard. We innovate. And we’ll make your company a ton of money. We just want to be treated like the assets we are. Treat us like you want us to succeed. Because we will succeed. And you’ll want to be with us when we do.


Here’s one thing you can do today: listen to your staff when they seek you out. You don’t even have to respond right away. Just listen; actually listen. Put your phone down, stop typing. Look them in the eyes and listen to them.

Photo by kelisa Bernard on Unsplash

And when you’re listening, consider that they have valid opinions. Even if you think they’re complaining about something trivial, consider that this is the most important thing to them at the time. Consider that your response will either encourage or discourage them. Your response will dictate how they view you and their role as your employee.

I’d recommend researching transformational leadership styles and servant leadership. I bet you think you already use these skills, but ask yourself if your employees would agree. Seriously, read up on it. And be honest with yourself.

If you’re having retention issues, consider that it’s not just about the money. You could pay people $500/hour and they’ll still leave if you treat them poorly. Remember the saying “people don’t quit bad jobs, they quit bad bosses.”

When I stop traveling and look for a permanent nursing position, I want to work for a transformational leader. I want to work for someone who views me as an asset, who encourages innovation, and who will support me even if something goes wrong.

Soon, I’ll be using what I’ve learned while working in hospitals across the country when I become a leader myself. This is how I will lead because this is how people want to be led.

David I. Mancini is a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Paramedic. He’s a tech enthusiast, world traveler, and an eclectic eater.



David I. Mancini is a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Paramedic. He’s a tech enthusiast, world traveler, and an eclectic eater.

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David I. Mancini, RN

David I. Mancini is a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Paramedic. He’s a tech enthusiast, world traveler, and an eclectic eater.