Traditional top-down bureaucratic structures modeled after organizations geared toward mass production in the industrial era may be considered commonplace in the healthcare industry. Unlike the production worker of the 1920s, the knowledge worker in the post-industrial era is a complex learner who is highly interactive and adaptable to change. Industrial era leadership models are no longer suitable for a knowledge-based economy.
Grounded in complexity science and complex adaptive systems (CAS) theories, complexity leadership offers an alternative approach to understanding the evolution of behavior and interactions among people, ideas, environment, and hierarchy within a system over time (Uhl-Bien, Marion, and McKelvey, 2008). Leadership is viewed as an interactive, emergent, and dynamic process which occurs throughout an organization as opposed to a formal title, position, or office. Leadership occurs or emerges during times of chaos and stress when solutions to problems require creative and innovative learning instead of relying primarily on the implementation of standard operating procedures or proven solutions.
Information exchanges occur in all directions with an organization because knowledge workers of today are required to perform faster and more efficiently. Traditional, top-down, power-based hierarchical structures make it difficult if not impossible for workers and systems to interact, learn, adapt, and change in response to stress and chaos. NAA supports and promotes the need for changes in current leadership models used in healthcare organizations today. In order to stay competitive, leaders in today’s healthcare organizations must have the skills, expertise, versatility, flexibility, and adaptability to meet the needs of the consumer and the demands of the knowledge worker.
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