Obstacles and problems of ethical leadership from the perspective of nursing leaders: a qualitative content analysis

  • Maasoumeh Barkhordari-Sharifabad PhD Student in Nursing School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; Department of Nursing, School of Medical Sciences, Yazd Branch Islamic Azad University, Yazd, Iran
  • Tahereh Ashktorab Professor Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Foroozan Atashzadeh-Shoorideh Assistant ProfessorDepartment of Nursing Management, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Behshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Keywords: Ethical leadership, Nursing, Content analysis, Qualitative research


In the nursing profession, leadership plays a significant role in creating motivation and thus enabling nurses to provide high quality care. Ethics is an essential component of leadership qualifications and the ethical leader can help create an ethical atmosphere, offer ethical guidance, and ensure the occupational satisfaction of personnel through prioritizing moralities. However, some issues prevent the implementation of this type of leadership by nursing leaders. The aim of this study was to identify and describe some problems and obstacles in ethical leadership faced by nursing leaders, and to help them achieve more accurate information and broader perspective in this field.The present study was conducted using a qualitative approach and content analysis. A total of 14 nursing managers and educators were selected purposefully, and deep and semi-structured interviews were conducted with them. Content analysis was performed using an inductive approach.Three main categories were obtained after data analysis: ethical, cultural and managerial problems. “Ethical problems” pertain to doubt in ethical actions, ethical conflicts and ethical distress; “cultural problems” include organizational and social culture; and “managerial problems” are connected to organizational and staff-related issues.Nursing leaders put forth various aspects of the problems associated with ethical leadership in the clinical setting. This style of leadership could be promoted by developing suitable programs and providing clear-cut strategies for removing the current obstacles and correcting the organizational structure. This can lead to ethical improvement in nursing leaders and subsequently the nurses.

Author Biography

Foroozan Atashzadeh-Shoorideh, Assistant ProfessorDepartment of Nursing Management, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Behshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Nursing Management, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Behshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


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How to Cite
Barkhordari-Sharifabad M, Ashktorab T, Atashzadeh-Shoorideh F. Obstacles and problems of ethical leadership from the perspective of nursing leaders: a qualitative content analysis. jmehm. 10.
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