Nurses' perception of their manager's leadership style and unit climate: are there generational differences?

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

J Nurs Manag

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of nursing management

PubMed ID


DOI of Published Version


Start Page


End Page



AIM: To describe and compare how nurses representing four age cohorts perceive their manager's leadership style and unit climate. BACKGROUND: The current workforce consists of nurses representing four generational cohorts. Nursing literature suggests that nurses from each age cohort think, behave and approach work differently. Limited empirical evidence, however, exists about how nurses from each age cohort perceive two aspects of their work environment: their managers' leadership style and unit climate. METHOD: This cross-sectional, descriptive survey was conducted using a convenience sample of 475 registered nurses working in different inpatient units in three community non-magnet hospitals. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Only nurses from Boomer and Gen-Xers had sufficient representation to be included in the data analysis. Nurses from the two main age cohorts did not differ in their perceptions of their manager's leadership style. Significant differences were found in two unit climate dimensions. The Gen-Xers had a less favourable perception of their unit climate related to warmth and belonging and administrative support. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING MANAGEMENT: Nurse manager's might reflect on how they interact with different age cohorts; and to involve nurses from various age cohorts in the development of policies to create a flexible work environment.


Adult, Age Factors, Cohort Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Health Facility Environment, Hospitals, Community, Humans, Interdisciplinary Communication, Leadership, Male, Middle Aged, Nurse Administrators/organization & administration/standards, Nursing Administration Research/organization & administration, Ohio, Organizational Culture, Questionnaires, Social Perception, Workplace/organization & administration

Published Article/Book Citation

Journal of nursing management, 17:1 (2009) pp.26-34. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2834.2008.00964.x.

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