Ethical Leadership & Empowerment

Ethical Leadership & Empowerment

In this final section you are invited to reflect on:

  • What is meant by ethical leadership
  • The ways in which you provide ethical leadership
  • What empowers you to provide ethical leadership
  • How you might build on and extend your ethical leadership

Activity 9 - What is ‘ethical leadership’?

‘Ethical leadership’ can be understood as leading in a way that promotes good outcomes while respecting people’s dignity and rights and providing leadership for others to do the same. As a nurse working in a care home you have leadership responsibilities and can influence dignity in care (see for example ‘Small changes make a big difference: how you can influence to deliver dignified care’ http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/191735/003285.pdf)

Write down your answers to the following questions and then discuss with colleagues:

  • What does the term ethical leadership mean to you?
  • In what ways do you provide leadership on dignity?

When we talked to registered nurses in care homes, they told us about leadership responsibilities ranging from supervising care staff to leading a unit. The ways in which they provided leadership on dignity included:

  • Role modelling and leading by example
  • Monitoring and correcting mistakes
  • Providing training and induction
  • Supporting staff and attending to their welfare
  • Supervision and appraisals

Activity 10 - Ethical leadership and empowerment

In order to provide leadership, or to be able to influence we need to be empowered – to have the power – to do so. Power might be formal (for example, it is part of your role as manager of a unit), or it might be informal (for example, your colleagues listen to your advice because they recognise and respect your knowledge and experience). As before, write down your answers to the following questions and then discuss with colleagues:

  • What empowers you to provide ethical leadership?
  • What disempowers you to provide ethical leadership?

The things that empower you might include the support of your managers; things that disempower you might include a lack of staff time to spend with residents.

Think about ways in which you might become more empowered to provide ethical leadership and the people who might help you to do this.


Activity 11 - Developing ethical leadership

When you think about how you can build on and develop as an ethical leader, including providing leadership on dignity in care, you might think about the areas where you have, or would like to have influence.

Discuss your responses with a trusted colleague.

The RCN Defending Dignity – Challenges and Opportunities for nursing report identified 3 ‘levels’ at which individual nurses can have influence and provide leadership on dignity:

Micro-level – this is the level of the individual, and includes role-modelling and challenging the behaviour and attitudes of others.

Meso-level – this is the level of the organisation, and includes providing staff with training and developing policies and practices to support dignified care

Macro-level – this is the level of government, and includes the impact of policies and resourcing on the ability to deliver dignified care

(http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/166655/003257.pdf)


Activity 12 – How did you do?

In Section 1 of the Toolkit you were invited to think about and note down your answer, as a registered nurse, to the following questions:

  • How would you like the dignity aspects of practice in your care home to change as a result of taking part in this project?
  • How do aspects of your life impact on your ability to deliver dignifying care?
  • How do you demonstrate ethical leadership in your care home?
  • Where do you think you have most influence on dignity in care?
  • Where do you think you have least influence on dignity in care?
  • Think about ways in which you might extend your influence in other areas

Find your answer now and consider if you have progressed towards influencing change. Discuss your responses with a trusted colleague or mentor and agree what will help you in the future to engage with dignity in relation to the levels above.

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