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Great Nurse = Great Leader???

Nurses Article   (8,026 Views 34 Replies 863 Words)
by airwaynurse airwaynurse (Member) Member

airwaynurse has 22 years experience and specializes in Critical Care, Flight Nursing.

2 Articles; 5,322 Profile Views; 20 Posts

Often times it seems that the unprepared are thrust into leadership roles without any preparation. Have you ever seen this happen in your workplace? Is it seen as a problem or "just the way it is?" What can be done as a remedy to the problem? Do nurses even view that a problem exists? Let me share what I have seen as a problem over the years and offer some encouragement to those that might want to effect solutions.

Nurses are routinely in leadership positions without preparation or training

  1. 1. Nurses are routinely in leadership positions without preparation or training

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Great Nurse = Great Leader???

How many times have you experienced the ramifications of this perceived axiom? The nursing profession is replete with casualties of this faulty premise. An excellent nurse/clinician is thrust into leadership with the rationale that "you are such a great nurse you'll be a great leader!"

They are then thrust into the arena with little or no preparation, training, or support. When the ill-prepared house of cards falls there is utter dismay because it fell and the "great nurse" may even lose that title as well. The whispering "maybe so and so wasn't such a good nurse after all" fills the atmosphere of the organization. The search for another "great nurse" begins as the cycle continues to wreak havoc on work teams and projects.

Contrary to what most people seem to believe, leadership skills are taught more than they are caught. Like most skills, there is careful study, intentional preparation, and practical application involved in the development of a leader. Let's take a look at these three ideas and how they can help to develop leadership skills.

For me, personally speaking, you cannot go wrong by employing Biblical principles to anything in life that you are doing. Having said that, just a couple of principles come to mind:

1) The Golden Rule:

Treat people as you would like to be treated (Luke 6:31).

This is a great place to start no matter where you are or what you are doing. An excellent foundation for interaction with all humans no matter when, where or in what context is wrapped up in this principle.

2) The Servant Leader:

"If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35).

So much could be said about this principle! History is filled with examples of "Servant Leaders." Gerard Thom (c. 1040-1120), the founder of the Hospitallers, male nurse, the servant leader is one such example. Others include; James Derham (c. 1757-1802), the first African-American to practice medicine in the US. He bought his freedom working as a nurse! Study leadership and study leaders, both good and bad.

Intentional preparation is linked to a careful study by self-reflection: what you hope to accomplish as you serve others. Set aside time to prepare for your leadership development and be intentional.

A great friend and mentor to me over the years has been Dr. George Manning, psychology professor and author of, The Art of Leadership (ISBN-13: 978-0078029080). I highly recommend this text for anyone with leadership aspirations. A character study of good leaders that are around you or leaders that you have had is an excellent source of intentional preparation too. Remember that there are lessons to be learned from bad leaders too. Learn from their mistakes, even if they are sure that they have never made any. I have been influenced by and learned much from several excellent leaders over the past 30 years, but I have also seen many fail and fall hard because of the application of the premise that titles this article. Much is learned from these leaders as well.

Practical application is simply putting into practice the things that you are studying, learning and teaching about leadership as you go. No matter where you are in life you are leading others in some way or another. The issue is: are you doing it intentionally because of your study and practice of leadership or is it unintentional, just because you are a great nurse?

Nursing leaders

I have personally seen this "great nurse =great leader" model many times over the years and it is a sad disservice to unprepared leaders being developed by unprepared leaders. Years ago, a great nurse friend of mine was hired by our company as a flight nurse. She was an "excellent" critical care nurse. Before she could get her bearings as a flight nurse and how that all worked, she was put in charge as the base supervisor; the leader of seven highly autonomous clinicians that were experienced in critical care flight operations. It was an extremely difficult time for her because no one prepared her for the leadership aspects of her non-clinical duties. With some mentoring and coaching by several seasoned veterans and a willingness to learn and study leadership she weathered the storm and became successful, but there were times when she was almost written off as a nurse failure. This phenomenon happens way too often in healthcare in general and nursing in particular. We need to break this pattern. Intentional action is required.

Finally, let me encourage the new and the old, the novice and the expert: Lead right where you are! People are looking for leadership everywhere. Remember to serve others and you will lead others. It is also extremely helpful to be a good follower, but that is another article for another day. What has your experience shown you in these matters? Please feel free to share your personal insights with others; ask questions, share knowledge! Nurse on!

I'm a registered nurse from the USA with 22 years of experience in Critical Care and Flight Nursing.

2 Articles; 5,322 Profile Views; 20 Posts

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HouTx has 35 years experience as a BSN, MSN, EdD and specializes in Critical Care, Education.

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This is my favorite soapbox - I've been involved in leadership development for ~ 30 years.

I had a wonderful mentor (HR Guru) who summed it all up for me "Accomplishments should be recognized; Ability should be promoted". Two completely different things. Of course, both dimensions can occur naturally in the same people - we all know strong clinicians who are also natural leaders. But this should never be a general assumption applied to everyone.

Nurses are smart people. They can learn just about anything, including the leadership skills/knowledge. But, as illustrated by OP's situation, there are some personality traits that are essential for various levels of leadership. Conflict management is a core skill at all levels.

One of the big problems in nursing is that career advancement is usually limited to 'administrative/leadership' pathways. So our great clinicians sometimes feel pressured to move into those roles even if it doesn't suit their personalities. Another issue? The people who make promotion decisions (non-nurses) frequently choose the candidate that looks most like themselves. Nuff said.

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llg has 42 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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I have a problem with the "golden rule" and prefer a "platinum rule" that I read somewhere a few years ago.

Instead of treating people the way I want to be treated, I should treat them the way THEY want to be treated. It's wrong to assume that everyone has the same preferences that I have. I try to find out how THEY want to be treated and respect THEIR preferences when reasonable to do so.

For example: Some people want their supervisors to check up on them regularly, offer lots of input into their daily work, etc. If you are such a person, that's fine -- but it is wrong to assume that everyone wants that much daily input from their supervisor. Some people would absolutely hate that. Think of the TV show fitness coach, "The Biggest Loser." She yells at the contestants in a very abrasive manner -- some people love that approach and other people hate it. The best leaders know how to use multiple approaches and can tailor their approach to the individual situation. They don't make the mistake of assuming everyone has the same preferences.

As for the concept of "servant leadership," -- it has its place. We should try to serve the needs of the people we supervise. But we also need to know how, when, and where to set boundaries. The supervisor should not feel compelled to cater to every whim, but rather be able to help them feel supported while also keeping an eye on meeting the needs of the patients, employer, and society in general. Sometimes needs and preferences conflict with each other and a leader needs to find the right balance -- and that balance does not always match the preferences of the employees.

I agree with the basic idea that too many nurses are promoted into leadership positions without being given the education and support they need to be successful. But I believe that leadership is much more complex than the simple platitudes suggested by the OP.

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airwaynurse has 22 years experience and specializes in Critical Care, Flight Nursing.

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llg,

 

I guess that my worldview got in the way of your understanding. Treating people how you would like to be treated is simply this: showing respect, kindness, love and compassion to other humans. That is grounded in Imago Dei, the belief that all humans are created in the image of God. It is a Judeo-Christian idea. That was my point in bringing it up. Worldview shows up In everything.

 

It seems to me the "platinum rule" would essentially lead to the "inmates running the asylum." A leader shouldn't check with the led to make sure they approve of how they lead. The other glaring problem with the "platinum rule" is that the opportunity for consistency is thwarted. Everyone gets different treatment.

 

I couldn't agree more with your comment (at least part a):

 

"The best leaders know how to use multiple approaches and can tailor their approach to the individual situation."

but, part b is really a non-sequitar. Boundaries are everywhere, no one is immune to them.

 

As far as "simple platitudes" goes, mine were spoken first by Jesus, yours, on the other hand......

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llg has 42 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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About the "inmates running the asylum" ... Note that I said "when reasonable to do so" and wrote about setting boundaries and keeping an eye on the goals/needs of the patients and employers. I never said the staff should get everything they want all the time. And sometimes, in order to treat people "equally," you need to treat them differently. Consistency in principle is not the same as treating people the same all the time.

And the snarky comment about Jesus at the end was not necessary.

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How odd it is to have snark used here by the OP.

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airwaynurse has 22 years experience and specializes in Critical Care, Flight Nursing.

2 Articles; 20 Posts; 5,322 Profile Views

llg,

Webster's defines snarky as "being crotchety, snappish; sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner."

Platitude, by definition, is "the quality or state of being dull or insipid. A banal, trite, or stale remark."

 

As far as the snark goes: I cited my references; Luke 6:31 and Mark 9:35 (The Bible). You cited no reference. Just the facts. I knew where my two "platitudes" came from not sure about yours. Don't take it too personally. We are both entitled to our worldview/belief system. But I certainly won't call you names when I do not agree with your opinion on a matter. Its just not Christian.....

 

Maybe Mulder was right after all!

 

"Sometimes the need to mess with their heads outweighs the millstone of humiliation."

 

or as Inigo Montoya said in the Princess Bride: "You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means."

NURSE ON! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and beliefs with us.

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48 Posts; 997 Profile Views

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QUOTE=HouTx;8525559]

One of the big problems in nursing is that career advancement is usually limited to 'administrative/leadership' pathways. So our great clinicians sometimes feel pressured to move into those roles even if it doesn't suit their personalities. Another issue? The people who make promotion decisions (non-nurses) frequently choose the candidate that looks most like themselves. Nuff said.

BOOM!!!!

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I was with you until you started quoting the Bible. I think your reference material should be a little more current. I'm not Bible bashing so please don't start with the anti-Christian crap, I believe you have the right to believe whatever you want.

I think your point would be better received if it was supported by EBP instead.

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airwaynurse has 22 years experience and specializes in Critical Care, Flight Nursing.

2 Articles; 20 Posts; 5,322 Profile Views

Slight enigma present, right after saying, "I was with you until you started quoting the Bible. I think your reference material should be a little more current." You state that you are not bashing! Wow! Seems like you started with the "anti-Christian crap."

 

There is no greater EBP than the Bible. Thanks for stopping by.

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