Effective leadership is no longer a buzzword within nursing circles. As the healthcare landscape undergoes multiple changes, nurses constantly encounter new challenges, opportunities, and practices.
A strong leader often helps you through these changes. This can often spell the difference between a nurse’s decision to stay or move on.
Leaders in nursing are usually responsible for monitoring and providing feedback on staff performance, as well as listening and acting on patient feedback to ensure better care.
Moreover, they might also be tasked with establishing procedures and policies to keep things running smoothly and consistently.
Nursing leadership is a multifaceted concept that applies to numerous healthcare organizations.
For instance, nurse leaders can serve in clinical or bedside settings where they will perform hands-on work.
As they seek advancement opportunities, they may act as influencers in the boardroom or perhaps as administrators and executives within research, technology, and academia.
Now that we’ve established the nursing leaders’ responsibilities, you might wonder how you become one.
In this article, we’ll discuss several steps you can take to become an effective leader within the nursing industry.
Volunteer for leadership positions
So, you’ve wanted to build your leadership skills? Why not volunteer?
More often than not, nurse leaders connect with those around them, establish standards, and lead a team of nurses.
By volunteering to lead discussions, you can build on those experiences and learn essential skills that help your emotional intelligence and dedication to excellence.
Although taking leadership roles at a unit level may not be what you have envisioned, they can be a great way to get started.
It is worth noting that you do not have to be a nurse manager or a chief nursing officer to lead nursing.
You can start leading from wherever you are in the organization. By managing your career in this concept, you will concentrate less on your linear progression toward the career ladder and more on personal mastery and impact.
Alternatively, you can check organizations with volunteer opportunities for aspiring nursing leaders.
Some of these organizations include Doctors without Borders, Project Hope, and the American Red Cross.
Nurses can take on a leadership role within these organizations, help with blood donations, teach CPR, and provide food, shelter, and essential medical services.
Seek networking opportunities
Professional networking does not always get the attention it deserves within nursing circles.
Although networking is embraced by nurses just entering the workforce, it can often be neglected by mid-career professionals who believe their network is enough to become nurse leaders.
However, this can be a recipe for disaster. Like it or not, the nursing industry does not run on autopilot. Now and then, innovative technologies and processes emerge to ensure better healthcare.
You must continuously develop and update your skills to keep abreast of these changes and remain competitive.
So, how do you build your professional nursing network, then? An excellent start is to join professional nursing organizations.
Joining a professional nursing organization allows you to meet other passionate and dedicated nurses who inspire you to advance your career.
It also allows you to find leadership and professional opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.
Recent data shows that 80% of job opportunities are never advertised and are usually filled through networking.
With networking, nurses become more active and involved. The benefits of face-to-face communication are immense.
You get to know people who share your problems and goals while learning about how nursing is changing.
If that’s not enough, you can probably fit these networking events into your calendar because the members are just as busy as you are.
The American Nurses Association, the National Student Nurses Association, the National Associations of Hispanic Nurses, and the International Council of Nurses are well-known national nursing organizations that you can consider joining to advance your career.
You can also use your school’s network. Most academic institutions have an alum organization that can offer you guidance and support along the way.
In any case, when networking with other nurses, write down contact information and ask people if you can contact them in the future.
Although career advancement is your ultimate goal, you might find that you can meet an invaluable mentor.
Find a mentor
The value of mentoring in nursing is too hard to ignore. Like it or not, there is much to learn from each generation.
Therefore, you must seek nurse leaders who are experienced and skilled and observe them.
Contrary to what many people think, mentorship is a two-way street. It’s an open channel of communication built on supporting and active connections.
Your mentor’s job is to offer daily advice and assistance as you advance your nursing skills and seek leadership opportunities.
These one-on-one experiences provide a safe space to ask questions and learn the professional and social dynamics of the industry.
Most often, nursing mentors have the necessary experience to give you an in-depth understanding of how the business of healthcare works and how you can take advantage of it to find leadership opportunities.
In doing so, you can lessen your chance of making costly errors that could otherwise mean the end of your nursing career by paying attention to their advice.
That’s great up until the point when you start looking. How do you find a nursing mentor? What qualities define the ideal nursing mentor? What exactly constitutes the perfect mentor, anyway?
The truth is that everything is always relative. Someone who works for you might not always produce the same outcomes for other people.
Therefore, you must evaluate the skills and areas you want to develop as a leader to find an influential mentor. Nevertheless, here are traits that you can refer to when choosing a nursing mentor.
- Respect different points of view
- Capable of providing constructive criticism
- Can help in finding networking opportunities
- Successful in career
- Willing to invest time in helping others grow
- Reliable sounding board
Now that you have a clear idea of the traits of a good nursing mentor, you might be wondering how or perhaps where to find a mentor in nursing.
Depending on your current location, you may find invaluable nursing mentors during your clinical internships, in professional nursing organizations, or in your current working environment.
Either way, by seeking a mentor, you can learn how to manage stressful situations and relationships, help team members, and solve issues quickly.
Look for professional growth opportunities
Seeking professional growth opportunities is another way of becoming an effective leader in nursing.
As technology continues to alter the nursing landscape, the need for forward-thinking leaders becomes even more necessary to stay on top of trends and remain competitive.
Now you might be wondering how to seek professional growth opportunities that would enable you to become an effective leader in nursing.
Do you have to go to national healthcare leadership conferences? Do you have to take some time off of work?
No, not always. Thanks to technological advancements, you may now look for leadership and professional growth opportunities from the comfort of your home.
These professional growth opportunities can range from getting certifications online or perhaps taking an online degree program to become a nurse leader at academic institutions such as Walsh University.
The advantage of online degree programs is it enables you to seek opportunities to become a leader without undermining your current job.
At times, healthcare workers can struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance due to their hectic schedules and heavy workloads.
Balance can get lost when you add education into the mix. With online degrees, you can balance your priorities since you can watch lectures and attend classes at a time that does not interfere with your commitments.
This is because online degrees that can help you become a leader in nursing are suited to your schedule and not the other way around. Although specific circumstances require you to attend live discussions and demonstrations, most elements of these online degrees are flexible.
By doing this, you can work to improve your leadership abilities while still maintaining an active social life and making professional tasks easier.
What’s more, it also allows for more focused learning. Each learner has a unique way of learning.
There will always be those who grasp an idea more quickly than others, and there will also be people who take longer to process information and use it in practical situations.
A student’s learning preferences can significantly impact the effectiveness of any delivery modality.
Online learning allows you to customize your environment to be more conducive to studying needs and requirements.
Since you have complete control over your learning, you can move quickly through the course and get your degree.
It also enables you to go over topics that weren’t clear and ensure you understand them before going on to the next one.
This can be especially critical for nursing leaders who are expected to lead by example and display self-confidence in their work.
When leaders believe in their skills and abilities and commit to using them to achieve organizational goals, they can inspire their team members to do the same.
Become an effective nurse leader today
Leading in the nursing industry requires a lot of things. Cross one off the list by signing up and enrolling today.