How to Be a Better Leader in Nursing
Updated: Nov 19, 2018
Within the nursing field there are many opportunities to have leadership positions. The type of leader you are, is something that you need to understand about yourself before you can improve your leadership. Here are three ways that you can become a better leader within your practice as a nurse regardless of your position.
#1. Find your type of leadership.
There are three main types of leadership, autocratic, democratic, and laissez faire. It is possible that you have characteristics of each of these types of leadership, but you will most likely be drawn to one specific type of leadership naturally. Understanding what these three types of leadership are will help you understand what type of leader you already are, and where you can improve.
The authoritarian. This type of leader is someone who doesn't care what other people think, this person is the boss. Authoritatian's have a dictatorial type of leadership that is either "their way or the highway." People in this category may seek leadership roles, or be granted high roles because it is apparent on the way these people present themselves in the workplace that shows employers these kinds of people want to get things done.
The democratic leader is the person who is in charge, but is willing to work with people throughout the workplace regardless of rank or title of any given employee offering advice. A democratic leader is someone that will make choices collectively as a group, rather than an authoritarian who is more comfortable making decisions on their own.
The laissez faire type of leader is the "chill guy," who just lets the employees make their decisions. This type of leader does not usually make choices, and is passive towards subordinates, and people of higher positions. This person will also make decisions with the group as a collective whole, but unlike the democratic leader, the laissez faire leader will accept whatever the group wants with no input given from the leader. This leader can be the "anything goes," type of boss. These types of leaders work well in positions among professionals who all have a common goal and will all work collectively regardless of whether there is a leader or not.
When you do a bit of soul searching, and you look at ways of you act towards other coworkers, focus on what type of leader you think you naturally are. This exercise is important to do at work, because people may act differently towards family and friends vs coworkers. When you understand what type of leader you are, you will then be able to look at what type of leadership is most suited in your scope of practice.
#2. Understanding your workplace needs for leadership.
Every workplace is different, and there are different types of nurses at different positions. Nurses in the emergency department generally act differently than nurses in the ICU. The important part for you to remember is that you are a nurse, and you will have chances in every shift to help lead other nurses regardless of how the other nurses act, or where they work. If you can understand the needs of your workplace, you will be able to focus on the most important needs first. If you work in an environment that is well maintained, and the unit is running smoothly, authoritative reconstructive measures or ideas will not be well accepted among nurses on the unit. Why fix something that is already working? If the unit is in chaos, and there is a general feeling of distress on the unit, other nurses might feel better about new ideas being implemented in hopes of creating a better work environment. If you are not an authoritative person, when a moment arises where strong nursing leadership is required don't be afraid to step up and take action. If you are an authoritarian, and your coworkers are comfortable on the unit, take the time to understand what their needs are before trying to slam a new idea down their throats.
#3. Be motivated to be a leader.
When you understand what type of leader you are, and you understand the type of leadership that will work best among your coworkers, work on motivating yourself first before others. Motivated nurses are contagious. Their motivation is sometimes overbearing, but when an entire unit of nurses can all collectively work together better because a motivated nurse, with a good attitude, helped push them through a tough shift, that is something special. Motivation is something that every leader needs regardless of their leadership type. If there is a leader of a sales team who is motivated about a product, the enthusiasm can be shared among the other salesman. If the leader is unmotivated, the low energy can be shared among the others.
Nursing leaders are well trained, and smart. Nurses are also well trained and smart. Nurses are taught throughout nursing school how to be good leaders, and how their leadership should be used. If you are a licensed nurse in America, a lot of the concepts about the types of leadership discussed here, and how to use them, will most likely not be new information for you. The hard part for some, or if not all nurses, is how to be motivated to be a great leader. Whether your leadership style works in any given type of environment is something that you will need to find out for yourself.
If your leadership style does not seem to be helping increase the productivity in your team, you should first evaluate your style, then increase your motivation on your desire to be a better leader. If you are motivated at work, have a great attitude, and you are continuously working on becoming a better nurse yourself, other nurses will follow in your lead, and you will become a great nursing leader. Motivating yourself is a daily need. Just as a body builder needs to eat a large amount of calories to gain weight, your leadership needs daily motivation to increase and grow your desire to help other nurses. Reading good books, watching and listening to motivational material, is something that is needed to help boost your level of productivity among your coworkers. The better nurse you become, the easier it will be for other nurses to be encouraged by your good work. The more motivated you become, the more motivated other nurses will be to follow your lead.
#1. Find your leadership style.
#2. Understand what your unit needs.
#3. Be a motivated leader.