For decades researchers have tried to define the characteristics of leaders and to determine a blueprint for producing effective leaders. Often the success of organizations and companies has been attributed to a particular leader or the leadership style in which they operate. The business industry has been at the forefront in leadership research. With the evolution of health care from a non-profit industry to a big business viewpoint, there has been increasing interest in producing more efficient and cost effective leaders. The purpose of this paper is to discuss research strategies that may impact leadership roles in advanced practice.
Employee satisfaction resulting in increased productivity has been linked to quality leadership. Discovering what type of environment facilitates the development of effective leaders and what traits and skills are characteristic of good leaders has been the subject of much dispute.
In Leadership: Improving the Quality of Patient Care, Angie Clegg summarizes a review of theories and early studies in relation to leadership. Early leadership theory focused on the traits of leaders. In the 1950's research changed from the study of leader traits to leader behaviors. Behaviors studied were classified as task oriented or person oriented and effective or ineffective. In the 1960's, theories that considered the impact of the environment on leadership were developed. These were called contingency or situational theories (Clegg).
Clegg's discussion of various theorists and leadership theories included Stogdill, who found leaders more intelligent, dominant, had more self-confidence, and were more active. According to Clegg, theorists Vroom and Jago felt leaders change their behavior depending on the situation and maintained that different situations required different styles of leadership. This was different than Fiedler's theory of leadership effectiveness, which concluded that since a leader's personal characteristics were stable, so was their leadership style (Clegg).