If you want to progress in any career, being a leader is a good way to go about it. Leaders are able to advance faster and to do well in their chosen profession, no matter what it might be. Leaders are those who are able to take the company – or sector – they are working in to better things, but just because you want to be a leader, that doesn’t mean you will automatically be one. There are many things you’ll need to learn first, which is why education and experience is so important.
When it comes to leadership in nursing, the same is true. It might surprise you to find there are leaders at all. You might have the impression that nurses are all about being in the hospitals and clinics and offering patient care. This is true; nurses do that. However, there must always be nurse leaders to take charge, and if you are ambitious in your nursing career, becoming a nurse leader is a big step forward.
As we’ve said, just because you want to progress doesn’t mean you will be able to if you don’t have the requisite leadership skills. Ideally, you’ll have leadership goals to attain that will help you reach the next level in your nursing career. Read on to find out what they could be.
Why Is Nurse Leadership Important?
Before we can start to talk about what leadership is and how to achieve your goals – and what those goals should be in the first place – it’s useful to understand the importance of nurse leadership. This will help you get a better, deeper understanding of why you’re working towards your goals and what you need to be focusing on in your career.
Nurse leaders are there to ensure their teams are offering the very best in patient care at all times. As well as this, you work with other nurse leaders and medical and healthcare leaders to innovate and advance the healthcare sector as a whole. This entails collaborating with educators, academics, researchers, and healthcare professionals.
It’s also important to note that a nurse leadership role can take a variety of different shapes. You might stay working as a nurse and be in charge of a team, for example, or you might move into an administrative role that is less hands-on with the patients but allows you more of a chance to make changes and implement new systems within your healthcare facility. When it comes to nurse leadership, there are plenty of options once you have the experience and knowledge and you have reached your goals. With that in mind, here are some of the goals to be reaching towards.
Although it’s not impossible for a nurse to become a nurse leader through experience and knowledge gained as a working nurse, it will be much harder than if you were to continue your education in a more formal manner. Therefore, if you want to become a good nurse leader in a role you enjoy, one of your goals should be to keep learning whenever you can. Ideally, this learning should offer you the chance to obtain additional qualifications, which will not only look good on a resume when you are applying for a nurse leadership position but will also give you more confidence because you have more knowledge.
One thing to bear in mind when you are learning more about nursing is that it’s a good idea to continue working at the same time. If you stop working to continue your education, you might fall behind, just as you would fall behind if you didn’t continue your education. It might seem like something of a catch-22, but if you choose an online course, you can work and study at the same time. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into because you’ll certainly need to be organized and dedicated to doing this. However, if you intend to be a nurse leader, these are skills you will have to have anyway, so it could be exactly right for you.
Learning in a formal way, whether you choose an online course or a more traditional one, is the most effective method of gaining more knowledge to help you reach your leadership goals. If you can supplement this by reading journals and blogs, attending conferences, and perhaps even finding a nurse mentor to help you, you will more easily be able to enjoy the role of leadership in nursing.
Become An Effective Communicator
Another important goal when it comes to nursing leadership is to become an effective communicator. Communication is a crucial element of the nursing profession no matter what stage you are at – you’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, from patients to colleagues and other medical professionals.
When you are a nurse leader, this skill of communication becomes even more important. Not only will you need to communicate with the same people, but because you are effectively in charge, you’ll need to ensure people follow your instructions to the letter. You’ll also have to talk to various additional people who you wouldn’t have needed to communicate with when you were not a leader. This could include stakeholders and partners or more senior medical staff. Therefore, your communication skills have to be exceptional; miscommunication at a leadership level in a healthcare facility can have some hugely problematic consequences. Make it your goal to improve your communication skills wherever possible.
Be Good At Resolving Conflicts
Conflicts will arise no matter what sector you are working in. Even in the tightest of teams – or perhaps especially in these close-knit teams – there will be disputes and arguments. Not only that, but sometimes patients and their families or other staff members will have cause for complaint, and small issues can quickly escalate if they are not taken care of properly and quickly.
One of the tasks that a nurse leader will need to deal with is conflict resolution. They will need to be able to assess a situation, determine what has happened (as far as possible), and calm those involved down to a point where communication will be better received and a solution to the problem found. As you can see, conflict resolution includes a number of different skills that have to combine to produce a positive result. These include communication, as mentioned above, as well as empathy, fairness, and problem-solving.
If you want to be a nursing leader, being good at resolving conflicts is essential. Make sure that you look out for them occurring in your current workplace and use your skills to help resolve them where possible. Over time, you’ll become more and more confident and successful at coming up with a solution that everyone is happy with.
Another way to become better at conflict resolution is to engage in training. We’ve mentioned how ongoing learning is a good idea and how official qualifications are even better. With all this in mind, and with conflict resolution being such a crucial part of being a great leader in nursing, why not take part in some mediation training? Pick a course that offers certification to prove that you have the skills required, and you will learn a huge amount that you can put to good use in your daily working (and even personal) life. The more experience you get, the better you’ll be.
Be A Motivator
Being a nurse leader isn’t just about being organized and telling people what to do; there is much more to it. One of those additional things is taking care of your team and ensuring you get the very best out of them. If you can be a good leader who is able to motivate those working for you, you’ll find they are much more eager to follow instructions, they’ll be more productive, and they’ll come to you if there are any problems rather than either trying to deal with things themselves or walking away from a role they love.
There are numerous ways you can be a motivator for your team. You can set their goals (making sure they are realistic and achievable) to help them progress and gain confidence, for example. You can also ensure you are there for them when they need you, with an open-door policy for issues. Another good idea is to always offer encouragement. Everyone has to start somewhere, and leaders who get frustrated and irritated by those they are leading because they don’t know enough or have problems with the work will never reach their own leadership goals because they will never be highly regarded by their teams. In leadership, it’s all about giving and taking and making sure you understand that people will need to keep learning, just like you do.
Nurses need good leaders because the job is hard. They can become demoralized, and this can mean they give up on nursing or they suffer burnout. In order to prevent this from happening wherever possible, good, motivational leadership is crucial.