Impact Lives

How Your Nursing Leadership Style Impacts Employee Motivation and Teamwork

Nurse leaders develop a certain leadership style to effectively oversee responsibilities, which can have a direct impact on employee motivation and teamwork. 

Earning an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from Benedictine University equips you with leadership, communication and organizational development skills. 

Part of being an effective leader is understanding your leadership style and how it may impact your team. Here’s a look at how each leadership style may affect employee motivation and teamwork:

Authoritative Leadership

A nurse leader with an authoritative leadership style has a vision for the department and provides clear, unquestionable direction on how nurses can achieve that goal. 

Because initiatives and directions aren’t open to interpretation, nurses must work toward a common goal. With the department working as a cohesive unit, there is often a strong sense of teamwork. 

While authoritative leadership can positively impact a department, the hierarchy that is established can thwart teamwork and motivation if the leader abuses power or becomes arrogant. 

For the best outcome, authoritative leaders must provide direction with an approach that’s receptive to others.1  

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leaders collect feedback from nurses to improve the department, set goals and achieve effective patient care.

In many cases, nurse leaders use this kind of leadership to find effective solutions to problems. Nurses are motivated to work hard under this leadership style because they feel as though the nurse leader values their input. 

Even if the leader makes a decision that goes against popular opinion, staff may be more likely to accept it because they feel their voices were heard.

Nurses tend to see a democratic nurse leader as “one of their own,” which contributes to a sense of comradery and teamwork.2 

Affiliative Leadership

Affiliative leaders focus on a cohesive work environment that promotes a family-like atmosphere. This style of leadership exemplifies team building, as the premise of it rests on nurses relying on one another. 

The affiliative nurse leader is seen more as a matriarch, rather than a dictator. This provides an open atmosphere to present ideas and discuss problems. In addition, nurse leaders provide positive feedback when things go right, rather than just providing corrective actions when things go wrong. Both of these factors create a collaborative, motivated team. 

However, there are some nurses that won’t buy into the family dynamic. There may sometimes be professionals who are difficult to reach. For these outliers, the sense of motivation and teamwork won’t be as strong.3 

Coaching Leadership

A coaching leader works to develop the professional abilities of the staff. A nurse leader utilizing this style is invested in the long-term growth of nurses and helps each one achieve his or her goals. 

Nurses appreciate a leader who takes personal interest in their career and its direction, which tends to increase motivation. As each nurse works to enhance his or her skills, morale is often high and the work atmosphere is often more productive.

In some cases, nurses may begin to narrowly focus on their career alone. Leaders should be aware of this and address the importance of teamwork as a career goal if it becomes an issue.4  

The leadership skills that contribute to motivation and teamwork are an integral part of Benedictine’s online Master of Science in Nursing program. To learn more about this program, visit the


1Nursing Leadership.

2Nursing Leadership.

3Leadership Styles.

45 Strategies to More Effectively Coach Nurses.