You paid your dues as a nurse and are now in a leadership role. This is an exciting, and perhaps, scary time, but it doesn’t have to be the latter. A good nurse leader takes everything she has learned as a nurse and leads and inspires her team. But whether you are simply the most experienced nurse on the team and were “elected” to the position or are an advanced practice nurse new to the leadership role, nurses can struggle with not only their new position’s requirements, but also their identity in the leadership role.
New nurse leaders can enjoy the fruits of their new position (and minimize their stress) by keeping these three tips in mind when approaching their new leadership role:
- Think Back to Your Beginning. Remembering what it was like as a new nurse, can help you focus on what is possible as a nurse leader. New nurses look at the job with fresh eyes and frequently see things that more experienced nurses miss because they’ve gotten accustomed to the way things are done. New nurses can identify areas that need change. Try looking at your workplace with fresh eyes and talk to your staff. Ask for ideas and suggestions for change. Ask what they need from you in order to lead them effectively. Your staff may generate a great list of points you can use to improve nursing practice for the whole team and give you a great starting point for your new position.
- Focus On Pluses, Not Minuses. There will be plenty of challenges, problems and issues to manage and solve, and as nurses our first instinct is to fix everything immediately. We are, after all, trained to respond to emergencies. Focusing solely on the problems and not looking at the strengths of your team may make you miss some easy solutions. Ask your staff for input as to what they think their strengths are. Then take a step back. Look at the big picture, and identify areas of need and surplus in the talents of your staff and the strengths and weaknesses of the department. This is a great starting point for team building and task identification. From this you can formulate your plan of action.
- Connect with the Nurse Within. Nursing is about caring for, and being in service to, others. One of the most routinely overlooked areas of nursing, is the care we must give to ourselves. We do not have an endless supply of time or energy and a leadership role can be extremely tiring because your team looks to you for problem solving and morale building. You must not forget to “fill up your well” and take time to care for yourself. Whether you love spending time with your family, a pet, or competing in marathons. Remember to care for your body, mind, and soul, so you can care for your team. A leadership role can, at times, feel lonely and even demoralizing. Connect with other nurse leaders, either through the workplace or even over the Internet and bounce your ideas and frustrations off of your new colleagues. At one time, they were all new at their own leadership positions, so take clues from their experiences to make your own road a little smoother; a little lighter.
Finally, CONGRATULATIONS on your new role and good luck! Being a nurse leader is extremely rewarding. You have the opportunity to accomplish some great things and play a key role in creating change, which may touch the lives of every member of your team and every patient they care for.
What did we miss? I’d love to hear how you increase your capacity for leadership. Leave a strategy to help new nurse leaders in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.