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  1. Alexander, Catherine DNP, MPH(c), RN
  2. Lopez, Ruth Palan PhD, GNP-BC, FGSA, FAAN


OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to understand the behaviors experienced nurse executives use to create healthy work environments (HWEs). The constructs of authentic leadership formed the conceptual framework for the study.


BACKGROUND: The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses recommends authentic leadership as the preferred style of leadership for creating and sustaining HWEs. Behaviors associated with authentic leadership in nursing are not well understood.


METHODS: A purposive sample of 17 experienced nurse executives were recruited from across the United States for this qualitative study. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the in-depth, semistructured interviews.


RESULTS: Four constructs of authentic leaders were supported and suggest unique applications of each including self-awareness (a private and professional self), balanced processing (open hearted), transparency (limiting exposure), and moral leadership (nursing compass).


CONCLUSIONS: Authentic leadership may provide a sound foundation to support nursing leadership practices; however, its application to the discipline requires additional investigation.