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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN, is the former senior vice president and chief nurse executive at OnCourse Learning. Williamson continues to write for Nurse.com and serve in an advisory role.
Transformational leadership
fits in the Magnet model
Based on the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s recognition that nurse leaders must be able to transform an organization’s values, beliefs and behaviors, it is no surprise transformational leadership is listed first among the Magnet® model’s components in facility reviews.
The Magnet model
Transformational leadership is one of the most important components of not just the Magnet award program, but of leadership in all healthcare settings. I think there is a real understanding and appreciation of that in our profession. Healthcare facilities have become increasingly more aware of the Magnet criteria and the skills nursing leaders need, and recruiters continue to work on attracting transformational leaders and making them integral parts of their organizations.
Magnet accreditation and transformational leadership make a difference for nurses and healthcare facilities in terms of improved patient outcomes and staff satisfaction; higher educational standards for college degree requirements and professional certifications; a better work environment and culture; and improved organizational outcomes, among other benefits. These results are proof positive that nurse leaders need to be true exemplars of what Magnet facilities and transformational leadership are all about.
Characteristics of a transformational leader
There are many important characteristics of a transformational leader I could cite, but I think chief among them is having a vision for the organization and the ability to instill that vision in others and inspire them to embrace it and work for it."
— Eileen Williamson, RN


In conducting their reviews, ANCC appraisers look for “transformational leaders” who can organize staff around an embraced, collective purpose and serve as the engines in driving the organization to realize its goals.
In 2005, the ANCC developed a new Magnet model consisting of five components based on statistical analysis of appraisal team scores at Magnet facilities.
Transformational leadership is one component, along with structural empowerment; exemplary professional practice; new knowledge, innovation and improvement; and empirical quality results. The new model focused on better documentation, measurement of outcomes and the role of Magnet organizations in leading change, while retaining elements of the 14 Forces of Magnetism that made up the original model when the program was established in 1993.
Transformational leadership was introduced as a concept in the 1970s by leadership expert James V. Downton, who coined the term. James MacGregor Burns, another expert on leadership, further defined it as a process by which “leaders and their followers raise one another to a higher level of morality and motivation." In the 1980s, another researcher, Bernard M. Bass, developed it further in his book, “Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations,” saying the transformational leader “sets clear goals; has high expectations; encourages others; provides support and recognition; stirs the emotions of people.”
Facilities achieving Magnet status are recognized for having transformational leaders. What exactly is it that makes their leadership transformational? There are many important characteristics of a transformational leader I could cite, but I think chief among them is having a vision for the organization and the ability to instill that vision in others and inspire them to embrace it and work for it. Along with vision is being able to effect change by working with others to position the organization to meet future demands, and being able to guide employees through the change process and empower them to achieve best results. Transformational leaders need to be well-organized, team-oriented and collaborative, critical thinkers, focused on achieving results. They don’t just tell their employees to do something, but must show others how to do things the right way. They must have the necessary knowledge, experience, expertise and ability to influence others, and must possess strengths in coaching, training, motivating and cheerleading. They must be able to accept both responsibility and accountability for outcomes for themselves and ensure their team members do the same. They must be “people persons” who are both respected by and respectful of others, and leaders who set an exemplary example for everyone who works for them.
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The important role transformational leaders play in Magnet facilities

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By Eileen P. Williamson
MSN, RN
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Contents
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Understand Magnet nursing
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Interim director discusses past and future of the Magnet program.
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The Magnet difference
Experts discuss some of the unique characteristics of Magnet hospitals.
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Find your Magnet hospital
A breakdown by state of all the Magnet hospitals in the U.S.
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Magnet has global appeal
Hospitals in other countries are seeking Magnet recognition.
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Frontline nurses take the lead
Nurses are taking on leadership roles as Magnet Champions.
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Free CE: From Novice to expert
Build your expertise by adding to your skills and experience.
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Magnet can be a lifesaver
Read first-hand account of how Magnet hospitals saves lives.
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Seeking Magnet: Pros and cons
A look at some of the benefits and costs of pursuing Magnet status.
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Improve patient care
Research suggests Magnet status can improve patient outcomes.
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Nurses battle Hurricane Harvey
Nurses at Magnet hospitals in Houston stepped up during crisis.
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Achieve accreditation
Key steps hospitals can take to help them in the Magnet process.
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Lifelong learning in nursing
Magnet program places a strong emphasis on continuing education.
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continuing education catalog
Continuing education catalog
A look at courses that can help nurses on the Magnet journey.
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APRNs and Magnet nursing
Magnet status can elevate nurse educational standards.
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When you get the Magnet call
Read testimonial from CNO of one of the newest Magnet hospitals.
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What being Magnet means
Learn about the continuing journey of the nation's first Magnet hospital.
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Achieve nursing excellence
Read stories of recent Magnet Nurses of the Year winners.
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It takes a special leader
Find out how transformational leadership leads to satisfaction.
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RNs gain support
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The Magnet culture dictates fitting education into nurses' routine.
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IOM goals are top of mind
Magnet supports education targets for 2020.
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RNs are at the helm
Transformational leadership plays big role in Magnet process.
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