My choice of leader was Mrs. Smith who is a Director of Nursing in a renowned hospital. Mrs. Smith has a Masters Degree in Nursing and several years of experience in nursing leadership. Her input in the topics of this paper shed light into her leadership skills and preferences. While she agreed on the importance of most of these topics to leadership, she noted that some, though validated by research, may not be of such high value. Her years in nursing and leadership make the points she posits valid, backed by experience in how to handle leadership, especially in nursing.
Nursing is a highly dynamic career, where so many changes are occurring within a short period. Nursing requires practitioners to have a wide range of skills, abilities, and characteristics that make them unique. Nurses are required to be team players, together with other healthcare professionals. It is rare for a nurse to act alone in her decisions at work. Also, a nurse should have the patience and resilience to handle a variety of character traits that come with different patients. Also, a nurse should be a highly effective communicator and have the ability to make innovative decisions that make work easier for the healthcare team in general. Nursing is, therefore, the bedrock of success in healthcare. Leadership in nursing calls for a dynamic personality, commitment to organizational goals, active team participation, and effective pursuance of patient satisfaction of the services they receive.
Leadership, by definition, is the ability to influence others in behavior and commitment towards the achievement of a common goal. Apart from the well-known leadership roles, nursing leaders are expected to nurture leadership skills in those under their management continually. According to Mrs. Smith, mentorship in leadership is unavoidable, as the dynamic nature of nursing requires spur-of-the-moment decisions and management. Leadership in nursing is, therefore, an on-going process, which should result in the constant improvement of the skills and abilities of all nurses (Pullen, 2016). Mrs. Smith paid special emphasis to nursing leaders leading by example. Nursing career might have little time for discussions and theoretical training. Leaders should, therefore show the way by walking their talk. High levels of responsibility, work ethic, compassion, and empathy are required continuously of nursing leaders, as it is from their daily actions and decisions while on duty that their teams learn.
Nursing leadership also involves molding and shaping the behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes of the entire nursing team to ensure that the nurses, the organizations, and the patients benefit from the nursing services offered. Such skills require the nursing leader to develop relationships with their team that is geared towards their growth and adaptation to the dynamic nature of the nursing career. The level of resilience, patience, and compassion that the nursing career demands can hardly be obtained theoretically. Therefore, the nursing leader should take the initiative to guide their team in various areas as the need arises, right on the job. On the job skills, attainment and management of nurses are the responsibility of the nursing leader.
Innovation involves coming up with new ways to handle duties and responsibilities in an easier, cost, and time-effective manner that is beneficial to all involved. Nursing is one of the most dynamic careers in the healthcare industry. The innovation initiative is a requirement of all nurses since necessity demands efficient methods of handling patients and nursing responsibilities. Mrs. Smith noted the need for nursing leaders to have an open-minded approach to ideas brought by their team to manage their duties better. According to her experience, most of the innovations in a hospital come from a nurse identifying a need and thinking of ways to address it. Easy service delivery, including in the operating room, is fertile ground for healthcare innovations. A nursing leader that encourages innovation in their team encourages easy adaptation to the dynamic nature of their career.
Innovations also lead to improved service delivery to patients. Efficiency in healthcare management increases the quality of healthcare provided to patients and the community. Innovations also lead to better healthcare policies and the leverage of technological advances for better healthcare provision. Undeniably, nurses are in the lead position as far as healthcare innovation is concerned. Acting as the bridge between the organization and the patient puts a nurse in a unique place to identify innovation niches is healthcare delivery. This includes the introduction of new techniques or providing improvements to existing ones to increase their efficiency (Thomas et al., 2016). Inspiration for innovative ideas is mostly acquired in the process of nursing care delivery. Nursing leaders and their teams should be attentive to needs observed and find ways to fulfill them.
Emotional competence is the ability to manage and constructively express emotions. In nursing, the importance of emotional competence can hardly be overemphasized. The skill is beneficial to both the nurse and the patients they serve. To adequately understand the needs of a patient, a nurse requires emotional competence. Different people have different personalities, and their behavior can easily take an emotional toll on a nurse. However, they all need the best nursing care possible to ensure their satisfaction. Mrs. Smith emphasized that an emotionally competent nurse will handle each patient with compassion and empathy, even when the patient is difficult, disrespectful, or emotionally and verbally abusive. She also pointed out the importance of balancing how much emotional attachment one should have with their patients. Nurses should also have the competence to express their feelings (Kozub, 2016) adequately. Managing emotions may include hiding them or bottling them up for the benefit of the patient. However, away from the patient’s eye, a nurse should constructively express their emotion to ensure their positive resolution.
To Mrs. Smith, crises hit without warning, and some hit hard. They do not give room for planning and discussions once they happen. Crisis management is, therefore, a proactive skill that leaders should have. In healthcare, most crises include literal life and death situations. Mrs. Smith actively develops crisis management skills her team, and reminds them that they’ll need them when they least expect it. Crisis management planning is crucial in healthcare and includes having abilities, resources, and strategies on constant standby. Communication is one of the pillars of crisis management. The difference between effectively handling a crisis and the failure to do so lies in how effectively the leadership and their team co-ordinate through communication (Edmonson et al., 2016). Critical thinking is vital in ensuring efficiency during high-pressure situations created by crises. A nursing leader should, therefore, be a critical thinker with the ability to identify needs and come up with practical ways to provide for them. Critical thinking is essential before and during a crisis.
The demanding nature of nursing career places nursing in high-stress and pressure situations, sometimes for prolonged periods. Nurses are highly prone to emotional, physical, and psychological vulnerability due to the number of hats they need to wear while ensuring their patients receive the best care possible. Research shows that spirituality is a healthy way to deal with the pressure and frustrations they are exposed to. Whether attached to a religion or not, spiritual practices have been shown to give nurses a more positive outlook towards their job, enhance compassion, and effectively reduce the amount of stress. While she does not refute the importance of spirituality to some of her team members, Mrs. Smith is not too keen on developing the skill in her people. She expressed that the need for spirituality is a personal preference, and therefore she had no place in influencing her team to take up a spiritual practice. She admitted to not needing one in all her years of nursing experience. However, research posits that spiritual practices like yoga, prayer, meditation, and others also increase the compassionate outlook of nursing leaders. Teams with compassionate leaders tend to extend compassion to their patients, too (Paal et al., 2018). They also have better cohesion, which increases performance, both at the individual and team levels.
Mrs. Smith agreed with research that change is both unavoidable and disruptive. She also noted that the normal human reaction is to resist change. Resistance to change can, however, be detrimental to the effective running of an organization. Healthcare, and especially nursing, is highly dynamic, which means that it is prone to frequent changes. Also, the changes in the medical world, including innovations in technology and medical developments, require the adoption of new ways of handling patients. Change management is one of the necessary skills that a nursing leader should have. To effectively ensure adaptation to change, Mrs. Smith posited that a nursing leader should involve their team in the development as early as possible. Listening to the opinions of those resistant to the suggested change is essential in identifying the challenges the change might bring (Korniewicz, 2015). A nursing leader should, therefore, take into careful consideration of all aspects of the change and assist their team through as smooth a transition as possible.
There are different ways that individuals respond to conflict. Of the possible ways, perhaps the least used, is the amicable confrontation and resolution route. Mrs. Smith, however, noted with some regret that for most nurses, avoidance is the technique most resort to. However, not dealing with conflict can lead to team friction, ineffective communication, and the ultimate distraction from duties and responsibilities. It is not uncommon for contempt and disrespect to develop amongst peers with unresolved conflicts. Identifying the source of conflict is vital in pursuance of resolution. Mrs. Smith posited that when a case of conflict comes to her, she takes the time to listen to both sides of the story. Most conflicts develop from misunderstandings, personal bias, or unclear communication strategies (Johansen, 2012). Leaders should cultivate effective communication methods that ensure little chance of misinterpretation. Since it is impossible to keep conflicts from happening at the workplace, leaders should develop a conflict resolution plan that team members in conflict fall back to. Sufficient conflict resolution increases team cohesion, respect, and communication ability.
The most crucial part of team leadership is understanding team dynamics. Teams are made up of individuals with different character strengths, weaknesses, skills, and abilities. Mrs. Smith expressed the need for a good leader to identify the various capabilities of their team members and harness them accordingly to ensure efficiency. All members of the team should be clear on their roles, responsibilities, and contributions to the team’s goals. The team leader should cultivate practical communication skills and develop dependable channels. Research shows that assigning roles and duties enhances the efficiency of handling duties. Also, there is someone to take the blame when a task isn’t satisfactorily handled (Pullen, 2016). Encouraging effective communication between team members, combined with assignment of responsibility, enhances the ability of the members to handle specific duties and also seek assistance from other team members. A nursing leader needs to encourage a cooperative relationship between the team members.
According to Mrs. Smith, transformational leadership involves the creation of personal motivation for organizational goal achievement. This can be achieved by ensuring that there is personal career growth included in corporate growth. She posited that transformational leadership is achieved through ensuring each person under their leadership has something personal motivating them to handle their duties to the best of their ability. Transformational coaching, therefore, encourages the team to take up responsibilities, lead in innovations, and inspire proactivity and initiative. In agreement with Mrs. Smith position, research shows that when a person’s motivation is self-driven, they tend to go beyond their call of duty to achieve what they deem as a desirable outcome of the responsibility assigned to them (Korniewicz, 2015). For a nurse, that goes into ensuring the patient they handle gets the very best of their nursing care throughout their stay. A leader who inspires such a level of motivation in their team is termed transformational.
Leadership is a worthy challenge since it involves inspiring the best in a team by being the best. According to Mrs. Smith, leadership skills can be learned. Effective leadership consists of leading by example. Compassion and empathy are vital in a leader to understand the challenges their team members face and help them overcome. Consequently, nurses can handle their clients more compassionately too. Change and conflict are two of the unavoidable challenges a nursing leader faces. Early planning and preparation for both ensure there is a preset route of handling them when they occur. Effective communication is an essential skill for a leader. Communication breakdowns result in conflict, unachieved goals, and, for a nurse, fatal mistakes. It is, therefore, necessary for a nursing leader to ensure clear and concise communication. The channels of communication should also be preset and effective.
Edmonson, C., Sumagaysay, D., Cueman, M., & Chappell, S. (2016). Crisis Management: The Nurse Leaders Role. Nurse Leader, 14(3), 174–176. doi: 10.1016/j.mnl.2016.04.003
Johansen, M. L. (2012). Keeping the peace. Nursing Management (Springhouse), 43(2), 50–54. doi: 10.1097/01.numa.0000410920.90831.96
Korniewicz, D. M. (2015). Nursing leadership and management: The advanced practice role. Lancaster, Pennsylvania : DEStech Publications, Inc.
Kozub, E., Brown, L., & Ecoff, L. (2016). Strategies for Success: Cultivating Emotional Competence in the Clinical Nurse Specialist Role. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 27(2), 145–151. doi: 10.4037/aacnacc2016771
Paal, P., Neenan, K., Muldowney, Y., Brady, V., & Timmins, F. (2018). Spiritual leadership as an emergent solution to transform the healthcare workplace. Journal of Nursing Management, 26(4), 335–337. doi: 10.1111/jonm.12637
Pullen, R. L. (2016). Leadership in nursing practice. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!, 14(3), 26–31. doi: 10.1097/01.nme.0000481442.05288.05
Thomas, T.W., Seifert, P.C., Joyner, J.C. (2016) “Registered Nurses Leading Innovative Changes” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 21, No. 3, Manuscript 3. doi: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol21No03Man03