Leadership is a skill that can be taught and must be carefully enacted. While some people will be natural leaders, for most people, leadership doesn't come naturally and must be learned on a job.
When it comes to nursing, there is a big need for nursing leaders who have the skills and experience to take the reins and really improve the profession from the ground up.
Nurses often delay formal leadership training until after they’ve gained job experience. Postgraduate nursing courses are designed for experienced nurses who may be ready to manage and lead. An example is an online Master of Nursing (Management). You can study for an online degree like this part-time while working full-time.
The Changing Role of Nurses
The nursing profession is constantly evolving, and it's important that we lead the charge to keep up with the ever-changing needs of patients. This means nurses must be able to think on their feet, work well in diverse environments, and bring a progressive attitude to their jobs.
Being a nurse leader is not just about skill; it's about dedication, service, and passion for the profession of nursing. Nursing leaders must always be willing to share their knowledge and experience with others, whether this means literally "passing on the baton" or doing it through mentorship programs or by speaking at conferences where new leaders can learn from you.
The Importance of Leadership in a Healthcare Setting
Being a leader will play an increasing role in the healthcare industry.
With the aging population and sustainability of healthcare costs, hospitals and health care organizations are looking for progressive leaders who can help them solve problems quickly.
Nursing leaders can make a big difference in the future of healthcare by taking ideas that they see as a failure and turning them into something that benefits the entire profession. This can mean having the foresight to take risks, being bold in finding solutions and being forward-thinking.
Leadership Skills That Count
While some people may have leadership characteristics that have come naturally to them, for most people, leadership doesn't come naturally, and it must be learned.
There are different types of leadership differentiated by their intentions: charismatic leadership is about getting others to do what you want them to; transformational leadership is about implementing change; transactional leadership is about managing performance.
How to Become a Nurse Leader?
There are many great nursing leadership training programs out there that will give you the information you need to develop your leadership skills while studying nursing at the same time.
Online nursing courses, such as those offered by Wilkes University, allow for trainee nurses to understand their role within healthcare in a wider context and to connect with industry leaders for mentorship opportunities.
Be sure that your college program is tailored to prepare you for your new profession and ensure success on the job. Also, make sure they have clinical education in your chosen specialty, so you know what it's like to be a real nurse leading a real hospital.
Nurse Leader Skills: What You Need to Have
In today's modern nursing world, having leadership and interpersonal skills is a must. Here are a few soft skills you can develop to improve your nursing leadership style:
Patience With People
The main thing that you need as a nurse leader is patience. The nature of the nursing profession means that you will be dealing with many different people with diverse needs and expectations, which can be frustrating.
You need to remember that every individual is different and work towards common ground, even if it seems like you have nothing in common.
Confidence in Your Abilities
Believe in yourself and believe in your abilities to lead. Remember that you are valuable as a leader because of your experience and your accomplishments, not because other people think so.
Confidence is also essential for understanding that when things don't work out as you thought they would, it isn't the end of the world. Being flexible is important in nursing because no matter how much planning you do, there will always be different factors beyond your control that can throw a wrench into things.
Any nurse leader who gets frustrated or gives up easily will not be effective.
Another must-have for nurse leaders is excellent communication skills. This is because you will need to relay messages from hospital administrators and other leaders to your staff. This means being able to speak confidently and clearly, as well as writing effectively on a regular basis.
It's also important for you to be able to listen to your staff and react appropriately. Being a good listener is essential because you will even pick up on small issues that could develop into bigger ones if not addressed efficiently.
In addition, effective communication is also helpful in terms of team building and inspiring others. Good communication skills indicate that you are competent, confident, and assertive while still being open-minded, respectful, and honest.
Compassion Under Challenging Circumstances
Compassion is essential in every profession, but it can be particularly important for nursing leadership because it shows you have empathy for your staff and their concerns.
It also has a calming influence when staff are under pressure from nursing leaders and will help them feel confident in the work they do. Conversely, if a leader doesn't show compassion, staff may feel ambivalent about their work, which will diminish their motivation to do the job effectively.
Openness Without Judgment
Another important quality is to be open-minded and non-judgmental of your staff and their actions. Being authoritative without being bossy is key to a successful nursing leader.
Setting the tone through your own demeanor so that it is clear what you expect from others will be just as professional and productive.
In addition, you need to make sure that you don't discriminate against individuals based on factors such as race, gender, or ethnicity. Your focus should always be on ensuring the best care for everyone in your team with an unbiased eye towards potential issues of discrimination or harassment.
As a nurse leader, you will have to stick to your guns for the benefit of your team. Your staff will learn from you by example, and if you lead them with determination, they will follow.
Being persistent is vital in order to ensure that care is provided as efficiently and effectively as possible. Once you make up your mind about a goal or an issue, keep focused on it and don't be swayed by outside opinions or distractions.
An Attitude of Gratitude
Be constantly aware of your own attitude and be thankful for everything that comes your way.
This does not mean you should be ungrateful for things like promotions and raises, but rather that you should always make a conscious effort to show gratitude for the things in life that are important to you.
Doing this will increase your personal productivity, as well as motivate others around you to do the same.
The Ability to Follow Through on Commitments and Promises
Making promises in any healthcare setting is tricky, but when appropriate, patients should be able to rely on the nurse to keep their word.
For example, if you have promised a patient that you will find the answer to a question, you must follow through on this promise.
You will find it very difficult to lead others if they can't trust you to follow through on your commitments.
Be Flexible to Changes in the Workplace
The nature of the nursing profession means that things are always subject to change, so you need to be flexible with your leadership style.
You will have more success if you can adjust your style rather than insisting that something is done a certain way because “that's how I was trained” or other arbitrary reasons.
Make sure your staff knows that you are open to change, as long as the changes make sense for their situation and provide a benefit.
Be Responsible for Your Actions
Be responsible for your actions. You can’t expect others to trust you as a nurse leader if there is no substance behind your words.
You are also setting an example by being trustworthy, and that's something which others will follow because it makes a good impression on them as well.
Be Optimistic About Your Ability to Solve Problems
You must try to be an optimistic person and know that you are capable of solving any problems which may arise.
Having a negative attitude will have a negative effect on your work performance, but an optimistic attitude will help you and your team to succeed.
A positive outlook is also contagious, so if other people around you are feeling positive, they will perform better as well.
Take Ownership of Your Work
Being a leader requires not only being in charge but also assuming responsibility for any problems that arise.
Take ownership of your job by taking on the responsibility for your actions and decisions. This will help you lead more effectively as you are working to solve problems rather than simply assigning blame.
By taking ownership, you will also be more likely to learn from your mistakes rather than simply blaming others for your failures.
Never Be Afraid to Take Risks
As a nurse leader, you will have to make decisions that involve risk. Leaders who rely on others for all of their decisions are not fit for leadership because they lack the necessary confidence in their own abilities.
You will be more successful if you can stand up as a leader and take responsibility for your choices instead of making someone do it for you.
This will also motivate others around you to take risks and help make everyone's work more productive.
This is not to say that a nurse leader should act in a reckless and risky manner, but there should be a benefit analysis when it comes to risk based on experience and knowledge.
Being an Experienced Nurse Is Essential for Leading Nurses
The best nurse leaders out there have years of experience as a clinician and have proven themselves time and time again in their position as staff members.
This experience is invaluable because it allows them to recognize the skills and physical necessities of different staff members.
For example, patient care nurses are expected to have a certain level of strength and sensitivity, which can make it hard for a nurse leader to recognize these traits in another nurse.
Dealing With Conflict
Of course, conflict is difficult, but it's essential that you deal with it effectively. Becoming upset or emotional during conflict tends to put others in the same position, and they may not be able to function either effectively or objectively.
It's important that you remain calm and rational to maintain order when conflict occurs. When confronted with a difficult situation, it's better to give people space to voice their opinions so long as they remain respectful and constructive.
Overcoming Obstacles in a Leadership Role
Being a nurse leader isn't without its challenges, so it's vital that you are able to overcome them. While there will be challenges from time to time, this doesn't mean that negative situations need to indefinitely define your work as a nurse leader.
When faced with a challenge, your first response should be to think through and analyze it from every possible angle so that you can come up with a practical solution.
You will never know all the details about some of the problems that arise, so you need to be open-minded when evaluating them. By approaching issues from every possible angle, you can create an action plan that is effective, efficient, and practical.
Effective leadership is a difficult trait to learn, but it can be developed over time. As you become more experienced as a nurse leader, you will be able to build your leadership skills and add to your ability to lead others.
Being a nurse leader is about leading by example and inspiring others through good work habits. It's vital that you take the time to evaluate your own skills and come up with a plan of action for improving them.
The skills listed above are essential if you want to become a great nurse leader. This will help ensure that not only do you lead well yourself but also that your team follows in your footsteps and learns how to lead as well.
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