Could Critical Thinking Help Create Nurse Managers Who are Transformational Leaders?

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 4:00 PM

Susan Zori, DNP, MA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC
College of Nursing and Public Health, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, USA

The front-line nurse manager of a patient care unit, is expected to function as a transformational leader. Effective nurse leaders are capable of creating an environment that supports nurse empowerment, through open communication, and shared decision-making.   Achieving goals that align the organization with quality outcomes is essential to survive in today’s transformational health care environment (Kelly, Wicker, & Gerkins, 2014).  

            The purpose of this presentation is to share findings and implications of research that explored the relationship between nurse managers’ dispositions to use critical thinking (CT) skills and RN staff nurses’ perceptions of the practice environment and it’s applicability to transformational leadership behaviors.

            This descriptive study used a convenience sample of 12 nurse managers who completed the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) and 132 of their respective staff nurses who completed Practice Environment Scale (PES).

            An analysis using an independent sample t test revealed significant differences at the (p < .001) level  between specific nurse managers’ mean CCTDI scores for open-mindedness, analyticity, and critical thinking confidence and significant differences at the  (p < .01) level for systematicity  when compared to their respective RN staff nurses’ mean PES scores. There was no statistical difference in the nurse managers’ scores on the CCTDI when tested for the influence of the demographic variables of age, education level, and years of experience.

            Results indicated nurse managers with a stronger disposition to use CT skills were linked to staff nurses’ more positive perceptions of the practice environment. Transformational nurse leader competencies have been established by various professional organizations such as American Organization of Nurse Executives  ([AONE] 2005) and the Oncology Nursing Society ([ONS], 2012). Both organizations specify that communication and relationship management are key competencies required by transformational leaders. Nurse managers with strong CT dispositions may have strength in the development of transformational leadership competencies especially those that influence satisfaction of staff RNs with the practice environment. Including educational strategies that enhance the development of CT dispositions may be helpful as programs to develop transformational leaders are created. Additional research to explore the link between nurse managers’ CT dispositions and development of transformational leadership competencies would be beneficial.


American Organization of Nurse Executives.(2005). The AONE nurse executive competencies. Retrieved from

 Kelly, L. A., Wicker, T.L., & Gerkins, R.D. (2014). The relationship of training and  education to leadership practices in frontline nurse leaders. Journal of Nursing       Administration, 44 (3), 158 – 163.

 Lacasse, C. (2013). Leadership and professional development. Oncology Nursing Forum, 40 (5),  431 – 433.

Zori, S., Nosek, L.J., & Musil, C. (2010). Critical thinking of nurse managers related to staff RNs' perceptions of the practice environment. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 42 (3), 305 - 313.