Fostering a Culture of Nurse Leadership

Fostering a Culture of Nurse Leadership

Elizabeth Hanes, RN, BSN
Health & Medical Writer

The AONE conference kicks off next month with the theme “Inspiring Leaders.” And while it may seem obvious that cultivating nurse leadership benefits the profession, it may be less clear how fostering a culture of nurse leadership benefits your organization. Why support and encourage nurses who aspire to leadership positions? And how can you facilitate their achievement?

The benefits of nurse leadership in healthcare

As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, nurses at all levels play key roles in the success of the organization. Nurses enhance outcomes by providing direct patient care, improve efficiency through sound administrative decision-making and drive financial success by refining organizational policies and procedures. When a healthcare system cultivates nurse leaders from within, it reaps all of these rewards and more, including the valuable retention of institutional knowledge.

Nurse leaders, as a largely female population, also may bring gender-centric skills to the workplace that create a more well-rounded decision-making framework. According to one article, women tend to use more a participatory and collaborative form of teamwork that seeks to identify a variety of potential solutions to a problem. This ‘divergent’ style of problem-solving complements the more typically male ‘convergent’ type of decision-making. When the two styles combine, teams expand their ability to choose the best solutions to benefit their patients and the organization.

Other gender-centric skills nurses may bring to leadership roles include a higher likelihood of adhering to evidence-based practice guidelines, which may directly affect outcomes and reimbursements, and a “warmer and more engaged” style of non-verbal communication that can facilitate collaboration across diverse organizational constituencies.

Clearly, nurses can bring a range of valuable qualities to the leadership role.  By nurturing nurse leaders within your organization, you stand to create a stronger, more inclusive institutional culture that serves the dual goals of delivering an exceptional patient experience while creating value for the system.

How to foster a culture of nurse leadership

Cultivating nurse leaders from within your current nursing population makes an excellent retention strategy and also can help you ensure continuity of succession as key leadership roles become vacant. Try these tips to create a culture of nurse leadership:

  • Develop the necessary training initiatives to prepare new nurses for a leadership role. You may need to offer charge nurse training, workshops on how to be a preceptor or other courses that fill in knowledge gaps within your population.
  • Include nurses on shared governance boards, task forces and other committees within the organization.
  • Offer shadowing opportunities to give nurses a feel for what a leadership role consists of on a day-to-day basis.
  • Encourage participation in professional organizations like the American Organization of Nurse Executives, and provide funding not only for your nurses to attend but to present posters or sessions.
  • Create opportunities for nurses to participate in problem-solving, such as initiating self-scheduling or evaluating nursing-related protocols within the system.

Nursing leadership: an environment for success

Organizations that foster a culture of nursing leadership set themselves up for success in today’s performance-based reimbursement model. By creating pathways and opportunities for nurses to achieve in leadership roles, you can feel confident you are creating a legacy that will benefit your nurses and your organization for years to come.