3 Ways to Empower Nurses to Become Effective Leaders

  • June 21, 2017
  • Antique Nguyen
  • Approx. Read Time: 2 Minutes

Healthcare is a complex, ever-changing industry that requires strong, collaborative leadership across the continuum, specifically nursing. It is estimated that there are 3.6 million nurses in the U.S., making the nursing profession the largest segment of our nation’s healthcare workforce.

While the struggle for quality talent continues to rise, managers must search for new ways to motivate and inspire great nurses to become effective, positive leaders in their community.

Here are three things you should consider.

1. Provide Leadership Development

Experts say that leadership skills can be learned through effective training programs. However, Maureen A. O’Reilly suggests leadership development must include an understanding of how humans relate and interact with each other. More often than not, advancements to leadership positions in medicine have been centered on the candidate’s academic and clinical accomplishments, rather than their ability to foster team building, establish effective communication and apply emotional intelligence (EI).

Training programs should include essential and universal leadership skills (conflict management and negotiation) as well as strategies to develop personal traits (empathy, listening and innovation), states Roberta Sonnino, Executive and Career Coach at RES Coaching LLC and author of “Health Care Leadership Development and Training: Progress and Pitfalls.”

Significant individual benefits follow training programs. It may include personal growth, career satisfaction and advancement, and most importantly, networking, Sonnino states. “[Participants] who spend significant periods of time learning together often develop special camaraderie, which encourages ongoing collaboration and synergy among colleagues and institutions.”

2. Involve Nurses in Shared Decision-Making

Giving nurses a voice in key hospital decision-making can offer a great sense of inclusion and appreciation. Nurses often feel like hospitals and healthcare facilities don’t give enough recognition, support or appreciation—resulting in high turnover, decreased productivity and poor patient outcomes.

As a result, Dr. Tim Porter-O’Grady, a Clinical Professor and Leadership Scholar at The Ohio State University, developed a shared governance model that turns traditional hierarchal structures into flat, decentralized systems where decision-making power lies in the hands of those who are most closely affected by those decisions (e.g., nurses at the bedside), rather than with senior leadership. “This means looking past simple notions of empowerment and seriously looking at empowerment as a frame of reference for engaging the staff more fully in those decisions that affect what they do, how they do them, and the outcomes of their work,” Porter-O’Grady states.

To support the strengthening of relationships through shared governance, Porter-O’Grady suggests these four principles:

  1. Accountability: The mutual commitment to positive patient-care outcomes.
  2. Equity: The valuing of every role in the organization.
  3. Partnership: Nurses’ relationships with one another, the patient, or other disciplines.
  4. Ownership: Membership in the nursing profession, clinical practice, and the work that nurses do as individuals.

3. Offer Continuous Feedback

Continuous improvement is a valuable system to keep employees motivated and engaged. When employees can give and receive critical feedback with their management, it lets them feel more appreciated, less stressed out, and helps build confidence as well. It is important for managers to connect with their teams on a regular basis to ensure each employee is equipped with the necessary tools to remain productive and engaged.

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