During the coronavirus pandemic, nurses all over the world emerged as frontline soldiers to combat this disease. But the onslaught of COVID-19 soon made everyone realize that merely having clinical skills was not enough for RNs; instead, they must undertake further responsibilities. Thus, nurses are today being encouraged to continue their education, pursue advanced degrees in their profession, and assume leadership roles eventually. But how can RNs improve their abilities as effective leaders and competent managers? We’ll discuss how nurses can successfully transition to management. Moreover, we’ll discuss the importance of nurse leaders in our current healthcare environment as primary caregivers.
10 Ways of Becoming a Better Nurse Leader
How do we determine how successful a nurse leader is? A nurse leader brings change by inspiring others and motivating them to become future leaders. All nurses are leaders as they persuade patients to take the necessary steps towards complete recovery and collaborate with physicians to oversee their medical condition. They are also serving as mentors for less-experienced nurses. Understandably, improving your leadership capabilities will only transform you into a better healthcare practitioner. And, if your future objectives include getting a management position, becoming a better leader doesn’t seem like a futile effort. So, what are some steps RNs today can take to improve themselves as leaders?
Nurses have been overwhelmed by the workload during the pandemic. Most of them don’t have time to spare for continuing their education. However, online courses are available for RNs that help them study at their own pace! Hence, you can opt for DNP online to eventually become eligible for clinical leadership or healthcare management in the future. Many RNs have earned a doctor of nursing practice digitally to assume management-related responsibilities. These educational programs offer RNs several opportunities for transitioning to management. But we know that sheer learning isn’t enough! If you wish to become an effective leader, you need to harness the following qualities as well:
- Become Self-Aware
What’s the first step towards becoming a nurse leader? It involves becoming self-aware, i.e., learn which qualities you lack as a leader and then strive to develop these abilities. Determine your goals; find out which objectives you must pursue to improve your leadership capabilities. You can make a list of all the skills you need to develop and then work on each one of them individually. Self-awareness will enhance your experience as a nurse, and this experience will make you a better nurse executive.
- Pursue Lifelong Learning
Experts recommend nurses pursue additional education and training programs to become improved leaders by bolstering their management capabilities. We’ve already talked about acquiring a DNP degree. But your education should also include exploring further opportunities to make yourself an improved leader. These opportunities include attending webinars, workshops, and conferences to meet like-minded individuals. You can also expand your network by working with other nurses.
- Communicate Properly
A leader must communicate properly with clients, colleagues, and supervisors. Communication constitutes a two-way street, i.e., an effective communicator must also be an active listener. If you’re not listening to what your team has to say, it means that you aren’t communicating with them properly. After listening, you must deliver a well-constructed response that shows that you value the person’s feedback. So, communication skills directly help you improve your nurse leadership abilities.
- Find a Mentor
You don’t have to walk down this road on your own! Find a reliable person to become your mentor. She’ll help you overcome your weaknesses and improve your capabilities as a manager. But – like communication – mentorship also goes both ways. If you’re finding a mentor, someone else’s also looking up to you as her inspiration. So, imitate your mentor. Watch how she deals with people, manages conflicts, and empowers nurses/patients. Then you can follow in her footsteps exactly.
- Be a Positive Person
What do you imagine when you think about a leader who inspires you? You don’t imagine a grumpy, ill-tempered, and constantly complaining fellow. Instead, you think about a person exuding positive energy. This person doesn’t make everyone around her feel nervous or frustrated. Instead, she will motivate you to show passion for your duties. Thus, assume a “can do” attitude, show some enthusiasm about your responsibilities, and try to appreciate people’s diligence verbally as well.
- Become a Visionary
A leadership position empowers nurses to share their vision with colleagues and supervisors. So, it would help if you didn’t hesitate to outline your schemes for healthcare reforms. Understand your strengths and weaknesses while improving your emotional intelligence (EQ) – the ability to control one’s emotions and understand how the other person feels. This ability allows the nurse to commit to a practical approach by engaging in a shared vision instead of pursuing self-interests.
- Don’t Lose Confidence
Self-confidence marks an excellent leader, and nurses aren’t an exception to this quality. Confident leaders motivate others to become self-reliable and self-sufficient. It would help if you observed everyone’s strengths (which you’ll improve) and weaknesses (which you’ll eliminate). Nothing can summarize it more succinctly than saying that you must become your coach and everyone else’s advocate. And “everyone else” also includes patients whom you must empower for better medical outcomes.
- Seek Constructive Criticism
You don’t have to listen to people with superficial feedback. They only tell you what’s pleasing and sometimes even misleading. A nurse leader must always be receptive to constructive criticism. Don’t allow your ego to prevent you from accepting rightful criticism of your actions. We recommend that you surround yourself with people courageous enough to give you their critique in a meaningful and positive method. Learn that an effective leader doesn’t ever stop anyone from criticizing her.
- Always Think Critically
Nurses shouldn’t hesitate to thinking critically or improving their problem-solving skills. People expect you to make on-the-spot but well-informed decisions. How can you manage difficult situations with no critical thinking skills? Critically thinking involves the following stages, i.e., analysis, evaluation, and deductive reasoning. A nurse utilizes these capabilities during her normal routines. Nurse leaders who possess critical thinking abilities contribute heavily to healthcare reformation.
- Join a Network
Nurses shouldn’t consider themselves individuals when it comes to healthcare reforms. Understand that you’re always supported by several organizations working on behalf of American nurses nationwide. For instance, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) allows you to join a community of thousands of RNs. These communities become a gateway for you to learn about the innovations in the nursing field and career advancement opportunities for nurse executives.
In 2019, we had over 3.8 million RNs working in the United States right now. But the government wishes to produce thousands of more nurses annually during this decade. After the emergence of the pandemic, the need to tackle the nursing shortage in the USA has become exceedingly important. Nurses are also being educated to improve their medical abilities and also assume leadership positions. So, which sort of leadership skills RNs should possess? These include EQ, integrity, critical thinking, decision-making, effective communication, mentorship, and professional socialization. Also, nurses must have a working knowledge of technology and a global mindset to excel in their careers during this pandemic.