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|ACNL in Action|
ACNL in Action
5 Ways to Grow Your Leadership Skills
By: Brandon Dominguez, MSN, RN, CHEP
Good leaders are always working on developing their leadership skills, but that doesn't have to mean getting an MBA or testing the latest fad leadership methods on your team. Simply reflecting on how each day has gone and working on your own personal skills can make all the difference. Read on for some easy ways to become a better leader.
Reflection is a fundamental characteristic of any leader and has been demonstrated to improve performance outcomes (Yang, Zhang & Yan, 2018). Nurses practice reflection on a daily basis. We reflect on our clients, communities, and administration. But what about self-reflection?
Reflection is a powerful self-care initiative that can reverse emotional and physical exhaustion (Prestia, 2019). This process begins by questioning the events that occurred throughout your day. Whether you had a good day or a bad one, the process of reflection is not about judging, but noticing. Understand the series of events that led to the result of your day. Next, talk to others who were with you for the day. How was your performance? It is essential to be completely honest with your assessment. Lastly, keep your reflections in a journal. These processes are all part of the "Q.U.I.C.K." steps to engage in reflection (Teach Hub, 2011).
All organizations have a type of vision, mission, or set goals. Often, they are posted in a prominent place for employees and the public to see, such as the organization's website (ACNL's mission, vision, and values, can be easily found on this website, for instance).
However, sometimes, these values get lost in translation or seem impossible to achieve. Healthcare leaders can improve adherence to their organization's values by having not only a personal sense of discipline, but by influencing organizational discipline as well.
In his book, The Fifth Discipline, organizational scholar Peter Senge defined five disciplines that organizations can follow to improve management and development. One of the five disciplines discusses the concept of mental models. Mental models help leaders adapt to new situations by giving them a framework to identify and understand the values of the organization. However, mental models can also be barriers to adaptation when they include statements with historical context like "we have always done things that way" or "it didn't work then so it won't work now."
Building on this concept, Senge also discusses the discipline of personal mastery, which occurs when leaders have a clear vision, combined with an accurate perception of reality. The leader realizes the gap between the vision and current practice and drives engagement to achieve success. This discipline rings especially true for nursing as research is translated into evidence-based practice.
David S. Viscott once said, "The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away." This idea describes the passion of nursing and can be applied in many ways. But the problem is that inspiration is usually spontaneous. Do you pursue inspiration or does inspiration pursue you?
Although you cannot always achieve inspiration on-demand, you can certainly position yourself to become susceptible to the effects. The ability to motivate and influence, whether it be yourself or others, is founded on personal characteristics of adaptability, reliability, trustworthiness, and authenticity (Cleary, Thomas & Hungerfdord, 2015). Being mindful of these concepts can position you to become inspired, or perhaps inspire someone else. So what makes you unique, and how can you share that gift with others?
Maybe you have a day off, but you are looking for ways to be productive while at home. There are many resources available to improve your leadership skills from home. One great ongoing leadership development webinar series is Transformational Leadership, presented by Pat Patton, Chief Nursing Officer of UCI Health.
“Transformational leadership is key for our nursing managers and assistant managers,” Pat says. “Many of these nurse leaders are new to their role and have recently come out of being a charge nurse or other leadership positions. Leadership skills need to be given to young nurse leaders in order for them to succeed. Those who possess these skills lead in a way that helps promote success not only for the team but for patient care as well."
Some of the concepts explained and discussed in Transformational Leadership include Leader Development Readiness and how to utilize different leadership styles. The second part to this webinar series will be hosted by ACNL on October 22 and the first part can be viewed by members here on our website.
Conferences or seminars provide nursing leaders with an outlet to share and learn about evidence-based practices that range across administrative, research, and clinical nursing. Nurse leaders can expect to reinforce or learn new skills that apply to their practice, not to mention the excellent networking opportunities.
Many organizations that operate these events are open to hosting presentations or workshops. Choose an outlet and set a goal to share your work at a future event, whether it be a poster presentation or a hands-on skills demonstration. The dissemination of information and feedback from peers is crucial to advance the nursing profession.
In the meantime, consider attending an event. ACNL is hosting a "Foundation for Leadership Excellence" event with a focus on practical applications to succeed as a healthcare leader in today's environment. This is a multi-day event that starts November 11, 2019 in Garden Grove. More information can be found here.
Cleary, M., Thomas, S. P., & Hungerford, C. (2015). Inspiration and leadership in mental health nursing.
Prestia, A. S. (2019). Reflection:: A Powerful Leadership Tool. Nurse Leader, 17(5), 465–467. https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.mnl.2019.01.004.
Teach Hub. (2011). 5 "Q.U.I.C.K." Steps of Reflective Practice. Retrieved from http://www.teachhub.com/5-quick-steps-reflective-practice
Yang, M. M., Zhang, Y., & Yang, F. (2018). How a Reflection Intervention Improves the Effect of Learning Goals on Performance Outcomes in a Complex Decision-Making Task. Journal of Business and Psychology, (5), 579. https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10869-017-9510-0