I interviewed a nurse leader with an aim to ascertain his leadership skills and style. My aim was also to learn about leadership in the context of imparting positive influence within the workforce and the mechanisms adopted in ensuring success both at professional and personal level.
On enquiring why he took up a managerial position, he revealed to me that the decision was solely informed by his level of education which made him feel that he had the necessary knowledge to hold the position. This came after the vacancy emerged at his place of work, where he had served as a floor nurse for some time.The decision to take up such a position with no relevant experience and skills demonstrated to me that the individual is a go getter not afraid to take up a challenge however enormous, one of the main qualities of a leader.
The position of a departmental head at the Whispering Oaks Nursing home in charge of social services requires that he offers leadership. I learnt that by virtue of his position, the director had played a pivotal role in the overall performance of the department. This included offering leadership in areas of staffing, budget planning and policy development. As a leader, he is also responsible for coordinating the functioning of all casework, technical and other related staff. This also entails ensuring continuous training and development of the staff. Supervision of the overall running of the department with reference to patient intake and discharge, carrying out initial assessment and offering assistance to the patient families’ are all duties he undertakes. This is in addition to creating relationships with other stakeholders such as social welfare groups in the community and keeping records in accordance with the federal and state regulations. Performing all those duties effectively is characteristic of transformative leadership; generally characterized by imparting positive influence and collaboration within a diverse workforce to reach set targets.
Despite his successful leadership in the social services department, I realized that he had never taken up any management position before. This was apparently out of fear and lack of confidence. He had received offers to lead but felt that he lacked the characteristics of a good leader. It became evident from the interview that a good leader must make decisive and well informed choices so as to influence others positively, traits he had cultivated to succeed in his position.
To make a good leader in nursing, according to my interviewee involved having adequate knowledge in all areas concerning the profession ranging from policies, law, nursing skills and processes as well as having psychosocial skills. This is because as a leader one had to command influence among varied classes of stakeholders among them fellow nurses, patients and their families. With such kind of an understanding about his role, it was clear to me that he had the ability to effectively handle the pressures of his position with ease. To make a transformational leader, one has to learn to deal and accommodate different categories of stakeholders.
Out of the myriadskills that define a great leader, my interviewee consideredpossession of effective problem solving ability as a core skill alongside communication. To him, interpersonal communication means that he canactively listen to others and accommodate their opinions which form a great foundation for problem solving ability. The other skill he considers necessary is the ability of a leader to take responsibility. This demonstrated characters of a transformative as opposed to a transactional leader.
Among the challenges encountered in his current leadership position include the overwhelming demand to satisfy the specific needs of individuals he encounters in his line of duty. Handling such matters as serving under a constrained budget means that the nurse leader has to perform and/or assign duties to the few personnel and help create among them the spirit to work effectively. Dealing with different professionals and non-professionals is complex and requires a great deal of patience to agree on some issues.
The nurse leader prefers delegative leadership style in which roles are assigned to the relevant personnel. The personnel are then allowed to use their knowledge and skills without undue pressure from the leader. According to him, this style gives the different personnel the freedom to professionally inject new ideas and concepts into their work which results in excellent outcome and career satisfaction.
In reference to the health care reforms,the nursing profession is set to undergo positive transformation over the next decade. There is an emerging paradigm shift within the profession geared toward employing an inclusive approach in running the occupation. Nurses’ training is set to encompass acquisition of leadership skills as opposed to the past whereby the role of the nurse was perceived as that of offering diagnostic and treatment to physical and mental illnesses only. As leaders, nurses will be engaged in important decision making and policy formulation to make the profession an integral component in a transformative health sector.