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Nurse Leaders: Manifesting a Vision

By Keith Carlson, via Multibriefs

The 21st-century healthcare and nursing ecosystems are complex, consistently impacted by the shifting sands of economics, politics and other factors. Nurse leaders cannot afford to remain complacent in this climate, and they need their employers' support to manifest their visions in times that call for frequent change and innovation.

Eyes wide open

Complacency is a nurse leader's worst enemy. From the emergence of ICD-10 to incremental and monumental changes in the evidence base for many aspects of nursing practice, complacency is a setup for falling behind the times.

A nurse leader who turns a blind eye to bullying and a negative workplace culture is ignoring a heinous scourge that undermines team cohesion, increases nurse attrition and compromises patient safety and outcomes.

In terms of the constantly evolving evidence base for many tasks nurses do every day, a nurse leader must keep his or her finger on the pulse of the emerging literature. Doing things the same way for years may be the norm in many institutions, but it doesn't mean it's right. Change can be difficult for busy nurses and healthcare providers, and we become overly comfortable with our routines for normal human reasons.

To remain cognizant of how things are and aren't working is a nurse leader's job. When a nurse manager is unaware of the atmosphere on the units she manages, much is lost in translation. If staff nurses are experiencing a reality to which the nurse supervisor is not attuned, cognitive dissonance results for the nurses who feel management does not understand the challenges they face.

"Eyes wide open" should be the motto for those nurse leaders seeking to be visionaries. After all, a visionary cannot live up to that title without seeing what's actually there.

Organizational vision

In the hierarchical worlds of clinical nursing, academia or research, a nurse leader with the potential to be a visionary may find the way blocked by an administration focused solely on the financial bottom line, even though another bottom line — the human — is sorely in need of just as much attention, perhaps more.

Healthcare organizations of every kind need midlevel nurse managers who lead from a place of forward thinking and 360-degree awareness. However, those managers need the executives who supervise them to encourage and appreciate their efforts and vision.

A baseline of support

Nurse managers can have great visionary power, and if they receive the support to manifest their vision, radically improved healthcare and nursing can result.

A baseline of support throughout the healthcare leadership hierarchy is a strong place from which to begin building visionary leadership. Such empowerment can deeply permeate an organization's culture from the CNO to the nurses' aides on every unit.

Build that culture step by step, and visionary nurse leaders will shine.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, has been a nurse since 1996. He is the blogger behind the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway and a widely read freelance nurse writer. Keith is also the co-host of RNFM Radio, a popular Internet radio station devoted to the nursing profession. Under the auspices of Nurse Keith Coaching, Keith's passion is helping nurses and healthcare professionals create ultimate satisfaction in both their personal and professional lives.

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