Understanding avoidant leadership in health care: findings from a secondary analysis of two qualitative studies

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AimTo illuminate ways that avoidant leadership can be enacted in contemporary clinical settings.BackgroundAvoidance is identified in relation to laissez-faire leadership and passive avoidant leadership. However, the nature and characteristics of avoidance and how it can be enacted in a clinical environment are not detailed.MethodsThis paper applied secondary analysis to data from two qualitative studies.ResultsWe have identified three forms of avoidant leader response: placating avoidance, where leaders affirmed concerns but abstained from action; equivocal avoidance, where leaders were ambivalent in their response; and hostile avoidance, where the failure of leaders to address concerns escalated hostility towards the complainant.ConclusionsThrough secondary analysis of two existing sets of data, we have shed new light on avoidant leaderships and how it can be enacted in contemporary clinical settings. Further work needs to be undertaken to better understand this leadership style.Implications for nursing managementWe recommend that organizations ensure that all nurse leaders are aware of how best to respond to concerns of wrongdoing and that mechanisms are created to ensure timely feedback is provided about the actions taken.

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