Transformational Leadership in Nursing from Expert Clinician to Influential Leader
By Elaine Sorensen Marshall
Springer Publishing, 2011, 259 pages, soft cover, $70
Based on the title, Transformational Leadership in Nursing from Expert Clinician to Influential Leader, the reader would think Marshall brings the 34-year-old transformational leadership model into the realm of nursing, yet the goods are never delivered. James McGregor Burns is mentioned, yet it is important to note that Burns introduced the concept of transformational leadership in 1978. Another leadership guru Bernard Bass is mentioned, yet there is no discussion of how this father of leadership moved away from transactional leadership to transitional and then transformational leadership by enhancing Burns' model in 1985. The history of transformational leadership is still evolving and rich. The magnanimous historical timeline snub is a missed opportunity for the reader.
Instead, Marshall attempts to give credit to leadership as a science and not as an avenue to motivate progress within organizations, institutions and among people while inserting values, power, politics, policy, moral sensitivity, reasoning, creativity, innovation, reflection, team building, culture, finance, management, behavioral theories, metaphors, chaos, complexity, delivery models and a morass of other topics into the text. A reader looking for how to put transformational leadership to work to solve complex decision-making dilemmas won't find it here. Not until page 101 does Marshall begin to address leadership practitioners, and just as the reader thinks application of transformational leadership will be discussed, Marshall wonders off topic again only to discuss communication, conflict, fear, stress, incivility and ethics while missing the opportunity to provide examples of how the use of transformational leadership can be used to facilitate buy-in from stakeholders to improve the nursing profession and the healthcare system.
Marshall ends the book stating, "it's all about healing," which has really been the theme of the book all along, not transformational leadership. One highlight is the section on power and politics that will catch a reader's eye; however, Marshall never tells the reader how to be a transformational nursing leader in the political venue to influence public healthcare policy or how to use other leadership models when transformational leadership won't work, for example, during a resuscitation.
The reader needs to be cautioned that the title is misleading and the book is more of the same written in a style that may appeal to nurses who are attracted to nursing as an art. How to become an influential leader is missing and nurses looking for how transformational leadership works in the real world will not find the information because the book is missing a navigation satellite system to taker the reader to this destination.
Linda C. Carl, EdD, RN is an educator, writer and consultant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.