Many aspire to lead yet not many can do it well. Leaders don’t push pens or papers. Neither do they push fellow human beings who are pitching under that same tent with them. Instead, leaders engage, respect, trust and develop people. 

You don’t need special talents to be that awesome nurse leader. All over the world, nurses have been stereotyped as the strict, no-nonsense lady in white, and one who prefers frowns over smiles. But in truth, nurses dread workaholic leaders; they remind them of slave drivers devoid of a social life. 

Essentially, seeking a balance is important. So, what sets one leader apart from another? Here are some tips.

1. Know your staff well

People come with their baggage of emotions and experiences. These shape their attitudes and behaviour. Putting yourself in their shoes will help you allocate work that facilitates not just the goals of the organisation but also that of the staff. When your staff feel they are taken care of, they will be motivated to go the extra mile. This will benefit the patients who deserve the best care.

2. Create a positive work environment

Make it a point to connect with your staff regularly. Build genuine relationships. Be authentic. When you are superficial, it shows up clearly. Get to know them on a personal level, perhaps have tea or lunch with them, and be concerned about their well-being. Align behaviours with goals and values. Show appreciation and recognition. This can only happen when individual accountability is stressed.

3. Keep communication channels clear

Provide ample opportunities for staff to clarify tasks, policies and goals. Practise the culture of inclusion. Staff morale will increase when they feel that they are seen as important and are kept well informed of developments. This will also open the lines of communication, thus instilling trust and inspiring positive collaboration.

4. Lead by works, not by words

You set the pace and tone. Walk the talk. Sometimes, leaders can be too focused on their targets that they forget their staff are actually watching the way they work. This is why nurse leaders need that extra dose of passion, compassion and focus. When you show yourself as being committed to your profession, others will be inspired. Treat your patients well and your nurses will do the same. We strive for win-win scenarios. Competition has to be in the right spirit where every voice is heard.

5. Focus on the things that matter most – people, service and quality

A satisfied patient speaks volumes about your team, department and hospital. Granted we all have our bad days but it is certainly not fair to pass it on to innocent parties. Managing emotions is so important in a healthcare setting, as we work with patients who are struggling with the bigger issues of life. Train your staff to take care of their emotional temperature and put aside these tangled emotions when they step into the wards. Focus on patients’ well-being and encourage staff to give their best always. Practise learning to smile as a smile is an instant mood-lifter. Quality service should be articulated into empathy and compassion. Clearly, there is a link between a happy nurse and a satisfied patient.

6. Create and grow leaders

Nobody is indispensable in an organisation. You should look into the professional development of your staff and provide relevant training to upgrade their skills and knowledge. Some leaders are afraid that their staff may take their place if they train them too well. This mindset will stifle the growth of your organisation. Often, it is said that a good leader trains his staff so well that he can leave but takes care of him so well that he cannot leave.

Ultimately, it is not so much of what you do for people but how you do it that matters. It is that warm smile or word that goes a long way to warm somebody’s heart and empower her to be her best. In short, an extraordinary nurse leader is one who is transformational and dares to create generous spaces for each individual. MIMS

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