The health care system, just like other institutions, has to respond to the various and increasing demands to the industry. Nursing, being an integral part of the health sector, has to establish an approach that will bring the institution forward in the 21st century, since there are many challenges that nursing face. Some of which are “new roles, new technology, financial constraints, and greater emphasis on participation, cultural diversity and education” (Curtis, de Vries and Sheerin, 2011, p. 2006). In this regard, effective leadership, in nursing in particular and health care service in general, has been given ample consideration as one of the primary strategies that can appropriately respond to the changes and challenges of the 21st century (Greenfield, 2007; Sutherland and Dodd, 2008).
It is recognised that an effective leadership in nursing is crucial in providing high quality health care services to the patient and efficient and professional discharge of nursing functions (Curtis et al., 2011; Shirrey, 2009; Tregunno et al., 2008). However, it has been observed that there are limited literatures pertinent to nursing leadership, especially, if it is compared with nursing management which has been the focus of discourses (Curtis et al, 2011; Stanley, 2008). In this situation, this research will look into some of the theories in leadership and on some of the issues that it may raise in practise settings. The aim of the study is to provide a comparative analysis of contemporary theories of leadership in order to ascertain which among the theories may appropriately fit into the unique structure and demands of nursing (Jackson et al., 2009). This is significant because by identifying the suitable type of leadership for nursing, high quality nursing care service is secured, job satisfaction is increased, and in whole there is a positive effect in the patient, among the nurses and the organisation as a whole (Curtis et al., 2011; Shirrey, 2009;Tregunno et al., 2008). For the study, the researcher will be discussing transactional leadership, transformational leadership and the servant leader. These have been chosen because these three theories are primarily humanists and holistic in approach (Heisler and Carter, 2010), which in turn, has a close affinity to the nature of nursing (Jackson et al., 2009). This decision does not discount the fact that other leadership theories, such as democratic leadership, strategic leadership, and others, may also be used. Nonetheless, the decision to focus only transactional, transformational and servant-leader acts not only as limitation for this research, but also supports the notion that these three theories of leadership are more congruent with the nature of nursing (Jackson et al., 2009). The research will be having the following structure. The first part is consists of the comparative analysis of the transactional leadership, transformational leadership and servant-leadership, while, the second part will be dealing with the reflective account. In the end, it is hope of the researcher that this analysis may further nursing leadership. Leadership and Nursing: An Intricate Relation The idea of leadership often evokes the notion of power, authority, dynamism, vigour, charisma, personalities, organisation and other similar concepts. These various connotations have contributed to the wealth of definition that is attached to leadership. Some define leadership as “a stream of evolving interrelationships in which leaders are continuously evoking motivational responses from followers and modifying their behaviour as they meet responsiveness or resistance, in a ceaseless process of flow and counter flow”