Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Jolene Erlacher, EdD


Over the past decade, the healthcare industry has faced many changes including staff shortages which have been intensified by the global pandemic. As a result, healthcare leaders face a vast array of challenges every day. This guide is about bridging the gap between leaders and employees and showing leaders how critical it is to develop relationships with their staff and support them better. Leader support, and the different things that support means to employees, is discussed as key to employee retention. In light of the challenges that healthcare leaders face today, including a lack of candidates, staff shortages, communication, burnout, and healthcare competition, understanding what employees want and expect from their leaders is critical. This leads into the focus of this guide on leader support, trust, communication, and leader relationships. This guide shows how positive leader support can affect job satisfaction, how leader trust can impact employee retention, and how leader communication can affect current staff. These different areas of leader impact can ultimately determine the types of relationships between leaders and their employees and eventually determine staff turnover intentions. Next, the guide presents different strategies that leaders can use to improve the feelings of leader support, leader trust, and leadership communication. Within these strategies, we examine the positive implications of improving the perceived feelings of each. Finally, the guide includes strategies to improve the relationships between leaders and employees, and the positive implications for the leader, employee, and organization of these strengthened relationships. Overall, healthcare leaders must understand that they will face many challenges; however, if they take the time to understand what their employees need, leaders should be able to recognize and address some of the challenges as they arise. By the end of this guide, with the help of reflection questions following each chapter, readers can identify their current leadership approaches and find strategic solutions to help preserve employees within their organizations.