Authentic leadership, organizational culture, and healthy work environments

Maria R Shirey
Critical Care Nursing Quarterly 2009, 32 (3): 189-98
The purpose of this article is to showcase the relationship among authentic leadership, organizational culture, and healthy work environments using a stress and coping lens. A qualitative descriptive study was conducted to determine what situations contribute to nurse manager stress, what coping strategies they utilize, what health outcomes they report, and what decision-making processes they follow to address stressful situations in their roles. A purposive sample of 21 nurse managers employed at 3 US acute care hospitals completed a demographic questionnaire and 14-question interview incorporating components of the Critical Decision Method. A secondary analysis of the data was conducted to identify differences in nurse manager narratives based upon differences in the organizational cultures where the managers worked. Of the 21 nurse managers studied, differences were evident in the organizational cultures reported. Nurse managers working in the positive organizational cultures (n = 12) generally worked in healthy work environments and engaged in more authentic leadership behaviors. Conversely, nurse managers working in the negative organizational cultures (n = 9) worked in unhealthy work environments and reported less optimism and more challenges engaging in authentic leadership practices. Organizational culture and leadership matter in creating and sustaining healthy work environments. Nurse managers play a pivotal role in creating these environments, yet they need supportive structures and resources to more effectively execute their roles.

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