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What Does It Take to Be a Great Nurse Administrator?

Nurses, by nature, are committed to providing great bedside care. When led by a dedicated and competent nurse administrator, healthcare teams can provide exceptional care. Becoming an effective nurse leader or administrator requires strong leadership traits and a refined set of skills related to teamwork. Successful nurse leaders work to elevate their team and focus on problem solving using evidence and best practice. The healthcare team's ability to provide efficient care while maintaining an acceptable level of job satisfaction is influenced by a nurse administrator's knowledge, guidance and insight.

Team Approach

It takes a team of healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for every patient. Team recognition is sometimes an overlooked area of nursing leadership; keeping teams inspired to do their best starts by acknowledging their efforts. A happy team is more likely to participate and put new policies into practice. The frontline team is often key to identifying primary issues and potential solutions, as its members are the ones who use the policies every day. Putting emphasis on their valuable knowledge and asking bedside staff for their input can lead to faster clinical solutions. When assembling a healthcare team, it may serve leadership best to make the team multidisciplinary. Complex system improvements can be achieved more readily by compiling observations of several different perspectives -- realizing that everyone has something valuable to bring to the table.

Leadership Style

Several types of leadership styles exist. Because no single style works for everyone, cultivating a style that works for both the individual nurse leader and the team as a whole is a best practice. What works for one clinical unit may not be suitable for the next. Taking time to research different leadership styles can help you find yours. Learning what you are comfortable executing in a leadership role can be examined frequently through self-assessment. Are you satisfied with your leadership capabilities? Are you meeting the needs of your team? Maintaining open communication, which includes listening, is beneficial for the whole team.

Open Communication

Regardless of leadership style, maintaining an open line of communication with all staff should be an ongoing theme. A visible nurse leader who is available for discussion promotes trust and accountability among staff. Nurse leaders may find this transparent communication style helps them stay abreast of issues on their unit, which in turn enables them to help facilitate change for the team.

According to the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC), "As a nurse leader you are an example to others -- either positive or negative. It may be necessary for you to adopt characteristics from a variety of leadership styles based on the situation at hand. Regardless of the leadership activity needed, it is important to act with integrity, to set realistic goals, to communicate clearly and often, to encourage others, to recognize the successes of your team members, and to inspire them to provide the best of care. Ultimately your actions will be reflected by your staff in the care they give."

The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) says, "The successful nurse leader must gain expertise in three domains: the science of managing the business; the art of leading the people; the leader within." The organization also lists communication as a core competency for nurse executives.

Demeanor

Effective leaders can be a positive influence on their team by remaining calm in the face of chaos. The ability to handle a wide range of emotions and stress levels speaks volumes to your healthcare team. A fearless leader rarely contributes to the overall stress level. A nurse administrator's demeanor does affect the staff. Exploring self-care methods to keep stress down and satisfaction up can foster a healthy and successful career. Lead by example -- your team will thank you.

Be Flexible

An article published on the Advance Healthcare Network website discussing effective nursing leadership states, "In today's quickly evolving environment of healthcare, it's time to develop creative leadership, i.e., the capacity to think and act beyond the boundaries limiting your potential and avoid professional derailment or faltering career moves." Author Meliniotis adds, "Under constant pressure to produce, some leaders believe reflection is a waste of time, but looking for patterns and getting perspective helps you remain flexible in the face of change."

In the fast-paced healthcare sector, changes occur often and swiftly. Remain flexible and adjust your leadership style to accommodate the current needs of the team. Assuring staff that it is okay to start over and reassess goals can foster a sense of confidence and trust, leading to increased problem-solving capabilities. Working together as a team, through both setbacks and successes can create a lasting unity and a contagious feeling of accomplishment.

Learn more about UAH's Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration online.


Sources:

AANAC: Nursing Leadership Management & Leadership Styles

AONE: Nurse Leader Competencies

Advance Healthcare Network: Effective Nursing Leadership

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