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How Leaders Approach Problem-Solving

No environment is free from problems. But, some require more creative solutions than others.

Healthcare, in particular, presents almost unlimited opportunities for things to go wrong — both in terms of patient care and inter-staff/intra-staff relationships. The problems present within healthcare settings are often a matter of life and death.

It takes effective leadership to keep all issues to a minimum and patient safety remains a priority.

What Makes a Great Leader?

If we think about the great leaders throughout time, they share a few common characteristics. Specific to nurse leaders, lists the following as core qualities for leaders:

  • compassion/empathy
  • integrity
  • critical thinking
  • dedication to excellence
  • communication
  • collaboration/team building
  • mentorship
  • delegation
  • open-mindedness
  • forward-thinking
  • accessibility

Another valuable quality in leadership is being proactive in problem-solving. Good leaders handle issues as they arrive. They are capable of “putting out fires,” and that’s important. Yet, great leaders anticipate problems before they come to a head.

Core Skills Nurse Leaders Need to Possess

While some of the above resonates as more intuitive, emotional intelligence — as opposed to procedural — can be learned. Of course, there are practical skills nurse leaders need to develop as well.

Examples of these skills are healthcare finance and economics. Mastering budgets and efficiently allocating resources is important for nurse leaders. Nurses also need to know how to communicate financial demands to upper administration.

The online Registered Nurse (RN) to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Administrative Leadership program from Northeastern State University (NSU) dedicates a course to heightening nurses’ skills and knowledge surrounding this responsibility.

NSU’s program also includes a course titled Organizational and Systems Management in Nursing. The course description states that nurses will learn about “contemporary influences, theories, principles, and functional strategies related to management/administration and organizational systems at the micro, meso, and macrosystem levels.”

Leadership’s Role in Addressing Lateral and Horizontal Violence (LHV)

While nurse leaders don’t necessarily need to be experts in human resources, it’s a substantial knowledge base. Human resources knowledge is especially relevant given the persistence of lateral and horizontal violence (LHV) within the nursing profession. The World Health Organization (WHO), International Council of Nurses and Public Services International have recognized this issue as a significant global public health priority.

Just how dangerous is LHV to nursing? A study published by Nurse Management describes LHV as: “all acts of meanness, hostility, disruption, discourtesy, backbiting, divisiveness, criticism, lack of unison, verbal or mental abuse, and scapegoating. [These] behaviors taint healthcare organizations; cause irreparable harm to workplace culture; breakdown team communication; and severely impact the quality of the care provided, thereby jeopardizing patient safety.”

With a solid leadership foundation, nurses can handle toxic behaviors that damage the work environment. In doing so, they change the workplace culture and guiding others to follow in their footsteps.

Empowerment Sets Everyone Up for Success

Perhaps the greatest responsibility of a nurse leader is to empower those in their charge. John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Northeastern State University recognizes empowerment as an essential skill. In the Leadership Development for the Advanced Nursing Professional course, students learn to “effectively manage change, empower others, and influence political processes.”

What Type of Leader Do You Aspire to Be?

It takes much more than “putting in your time” to become an effective leader. Nurses might rise through the ranks based on experience, but are they actually effecting change in the nursing profession? Unless they possess a robust leadership skill set, the answer is likely no. So, what kind of leader do you want to be?

Learn more about Northeastern State University’s online RN to MSN in Administrative Leadership program.

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