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Effects of RN Age and Experience on Transformational Leadership Practices

Herman, Susan DNP, RN, NEA-BC, CENP; Gish, Mary DNP, RN, NEA-BC; Rosenblum, Ruth DNP, RN, PNP-BC; Herman, Michael PhD

JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: June 2017 - Volume 47 - Issue 6 - p 327–337
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000488

OBJECTIVE This study reported the evolution of transformational leadership (TL) practices and behaviors across years of age, management experience, and professional nursing practice within a professional nursing leadership organization.

BACKGROUND Recent studies of CNO TL found valuations peak near age 60 years. This study reported on a wider range of management positions, correlating years of RN practice and management experience and age to TL metrics.

METHOD This study used Kouzes and Posner's Leadership Practices Inventory—Self-Assessment (LPI-S) to survey a nursing leadership organization, the Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL). Anonymous responses were analyzed to identify leadership trends in age and years of professional service.

RESULTS On average, LPI-S metrics of leadership skills advance through years of management, RN experience, and age. The TL scores are statistically higher in most LPI-S categories for those with more than 30 years of RN or management experience. Decade-averaged LPI-S TL metrics in the ACNL survey evolve linearly throughout age before peaking in the decade from age 60 to 69 years. A similar evolution of TL metrics is seen in decades of either years of management experience or years of RN experience. Transformational leadership increased with nursing maturity particularly for LPI-S categories of “inspire a shared vision,” “challenge the process,” and “enable others to act.”

CONCLUSION In the ACNL population studied, decade-averaged leadership metrics advanced. Leadership evolution with age in the broader RN population peaked in age bracket 60 to 69 years. The LPI-S averages declined when older than 70 years, coinciding with a shift from full-time work toward retirement and part-time employment.

Author Affiliations: Vice President for Patient Services and CNO (Dr S Herman), Adventist Health Bakersfield; Professor (Dr Gish), Department of Nursing, California State University Fresno; Professor (Dr Rosenblum), Valley Foundation School of Nursing, San Jose State University; and Consultant (Dr M Herman), Gate Software, Sunnyvale, California.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr S Herman, Adventist Health Bakersfield, 2615 Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301 (

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