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Lead Like a Nurse: What Does it Truly Mean to Lead Like a Nurse?

Lead Like a Nurse: What Does it Truly Mean to Lead Like a Nurse?

By: American Nurses Association

Every nurse is a leader. From the brand-new graduate nurse to the experienced team leader, every nurse leads within their sphere of influence. Whether that is a home care nurse leading a single client and family, or a charge nurse in a large unit affecting several hundred people, all nurses are leaders. A good leader welcomes this reality and works to improve.  A consummate leader understands how to effectively lead up, out, and down, and does so consistently.

As an interdisciplinary, team-based discipline, nursing leadership has some unique challenges and opportunities. And of course, every nurse is an individual with their own unique leadership style. To become a good leader, you must understand the culture in which you lead, you must understand yourself, and how the two interact. Think about things like authority, mutual respect, communication, teamwork, and creating opportunities for colleagues to function at their best. Nurses can learn from leaders in many fields, adapting and borrowing to fit the unique and fluid challenges of their particular facet of the nursing profession.

Violence—lateral, top-down, and from patients—has been increasingly in the public awareness. Every year, numerous nurses leave the profession because of their experience as targets of violence. While actual physical violence, usually from patients or their families, makes the news, it is relatively rare. Far more common, and therefore having a larger detrimental impact, is lateral violence from colleagues and supervisors. Taking the form of verbal and emotional violence, this type of “eating our young” has been a long-standing and even normalized part of the nursing/healthcare culture. As nursing leaders, we can and must take a stand against violence in our profession. And it starts with good leadership, with modeling healthy and upbuilding relationships with our colleagues, with standing up against the bullies and showing them a better way.

All of this takes resilience. Typically defined as the ability to bounce back from a stressful event, resilience is a quality deep within, a belief in one’s own value and intrinsic worth that is expressed as an ability to face hard times without falling apart, and then to bounce back in the face of adversity. Resilience is not just a personal quality, but a communal quality. Resilience is most often found in people who have at least one strong healthy relationship with someone who believes in them no matter what. As leaders, we have a duty to both seek out and build such relationships in our own lives, so that we can be resilient under pressure. In addition, we have the privilege and opportunity to provide that type of relationship to our colleagues, to build mutually strengthening relationships within the workplace. Now, more than ever, as we face the uncertainty of the year 2020, we need resilience.

Lead like a nurse. Lead with creativity and compassion and professionalism. Lead the charge against violence and toward mutual respect. Lead with resilience and build a resilient team. Lead like a nurse, and be proud of it!

For more on how to lead like a nurse, check out these fabulous resources that are part of the American Nurse’s Association fall book sale; take 30% off these books and others now through December 31 (Use Offer Code: BOOKSALE30).

  1. Lead Like a Nurse: https://www.nursingworld.org/nurses-books/lead-like-a-nurse-leadership-in-every-healthcare/
  2. Bounce Forward: https://www.nursingworld.org/nurses-books/bounce-forward-the-extraordinary-resilience-of-nurse-leadership/
  3. Not Part of the Job: https://www.nursingworld.org/nurses-books/not-part-of-the-job-how-to-take-a-stand-against-violence-in-thework-setti / 

Categories: Leadership / Management, Team Development

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