I am honored to be the guest editor for the first of a yearlong series on leadership of complex networks, agency, and relationships.
Historic and prevailing models of leadership are quickly becoming ineffective in this emerging network-driven world. This reality is especially evident in health care. In the United States, the more than 4000+ hospitals and service institutions are quickly giving way to the formation of what will amount to 450 to 550 large collaterally connected health systems. Clearly, a new model of leadership will be necessary to move these integrated and linked networks of service in a trajectory that results in better service and attainment of value-based health outcomes locally, regionally, and nationally.
The focus of the leader in these complex networks will no longer be on the person of the leader. Instead, it will center on the location of the leader as the “agent” of the network and its people, who will serve as the catalyst for decisions and actions that will occur at myriad different places at the same time and in a way that all life in the network will be affected.
This issue features many great thinkers about complexity, complexity leadership, and the applications and outcomes of complexity leadership. Often, individuals are challenged to recognize the value of complexity leadership and its translation into more effective nursing leadership models. Once an individual “gets it” and that light goes on, the value and nature of complexity become almost too simple! It reflects the real nature of the complexities of nursing work and quickly illuminates why current linear models of leading are ineffective.
The authors provide multiple approaches to illuminating and applying complexity leadership science to practice. Drs Tim Porter-O'Grady, Sandra Davidson, and Marion Uhl-Bein provide a strong, scholarly foundation for our readers. Authors Kennedy, Younger, Denke, Root, Shelby, Mangold, and Dean and their coauthors share applications in practice that can be easily translated to other health care organizations. These authors are innovative leaders and thinkers and demonstrate the shift in the role of the complexity-driven leader. Each one has demonstrated how these new models support the emergence and application of complexity leadership in different health networks at every place in the system. Many of the authors are emerging DNP leaders and reflect this new role with increasing clarity. New complexity leadership skill sets are evolving and evidenced in addition to the role of the leader.
We look forward to your comments and suggestions for the next 3 issues.
—Kathy Malloch, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN
College of Nursing
Ohio State University