Leadership for the future
Leadership for the future is a combination of lessons learned from our forebears, our present leaders, and leadership that is yet to come. As I reflect on the past, I read in the very first issue of Nursing Administration Quarterly, Volume 1, Number 1 (Fall 1976):
Leadership in Nursing Administration holds some heritage reflections for succession. Leadership in nursing administration is many things to many people, depending on what task they are performing at a given moment; but it is probably best described as the positive handling of professional interaction, such as between nursing and the medical staff, the administration, the patient and so on. Leadership is a learned activity based on knowledge, skill, experience, attitudes, responsibility, accountability, and autonomy. It requires creativity and innovation, courage of one's convictions, and concern for all people, whether they are patients and families we serve, our professional colleagues, or our personal friends and families. The nurse leader must have a high level of aspiration toward the goals which the nurses are seeking and must demonstrate actual success in attaining these goals.1
Since that initial topic, many other NAQ issues have dealt with various aspects of leadership, including influence and action, creativity and innovation, transformational leadership, mentoring and stewardship, to name a few. This issue on leadership for the future is especially timely as we face so many challenges in nursing leadership across the country and internationally. Leading us in this challenge, are 2 outstanding nurse leaders, Carol Bradley and Kathleen Sanford as coeditors. Carol Bradley, MSN, RN, is Chief Nursing Officer for the Tenet Health System, California Division, which encompasses 19 hospitals in California and Nebraska. She is a Past President of the American Organization of Nurse Executives and is a nationally known speaker with the nursing workforce as her major focus. Kathleen Sanford, DBA, RN, FACHE, has been with the Harrison Memorial Hospital in Bremerton, Wash, for 22 years, and is now the Vice President for Nursing. She is also the Administrator for Harrison Silverdale, a 48-bed inpatient campus. She recently retired as Colonel in the Washington Army National Guard and is the president-elect for the American Organization of Nurse Executives. Kathy is well published and has made presentations on leadership throughout the country. Her book, Leading With Love, published in 1999, has also been published in Germany and Switzerland.
Leadership for the future is in good hands with such prestigious nurse leaders as issue editors. Effective leadership begins with a positive self-image and self-respect and pride in the profession of nursing. If we have a sense of self-worth and value the work we are doing, the role of leader nurtures self-respect and self-worth in others. Self-incentive, motivation, and energized life styles enable the emerging nurse leader to respond to challenges with balance and harmony to lead beyond traditional boundaries in a constant proactive ever-changing healthcare environment.
Influence and action capabilities are at a unique place in time. Strong and forceful nursing leadership will determine how we are able to impact healthcare delivery in the long run. Respect for truth is the key to both trust and integrity in nursing. The foundation of relationships is based on trust, whether we are leaders in our home country or in an international setting. Trust includes treating nurses fairly, having nurses' interests at heart, and doing nurses no harm. Trust is the atmosphere in which quality patient care and collaborative practice models thrive. We are in an era of political deception. When this occurs it inhibits our action capability as nursing leaders become insensitive to the workforce and the patients we are entrusted with. Our professional responsibility is to serve the public and assure that safe standards of nursing practice are available to each patient wherever nursing is practiced.
In this issue we are initiating a new column of ethics for nursing leaders, edited by Leah Curtin, ScD(h), RN, FAAN, Editor, The Journal of Clinical Systems Management, and well regarded for her work in the field of ethics. She will bring to NAQ readers special insights into various ethical issues confronting nursing leaders. If you have specific questions, please send them to me so that she can address them. We are also changing our book review column editor to Betty Falter, MS, RN, CNAA, BC, President of Falter & Associates, Inc, consultant in nursing leadership. We thank Luther Christman for his dedicated, many years of thought-provoking book reviews and wish him well in his retirement in Nashville, Tenn. He has truly epitomized international nursing leadership.
Kirsten Elisabeth Stallknecht, Past President of the International Council of Nurses, and Past President of the Danish Nurses Organization, was honored with the 2004 CGFNS International Distinguished Leadership Award on December 8, 2004. She is a distinguished leader, teacher, and mentor, and has been a consistent, articulate advocate for professional nursing and quality care. Her belief that collective action of and for nurses and their patients, has resulted in a worldwide 2-fold outcome-provision of high-quality care for the patient and professional integrity of the nurse-and has influenced nursing globally.
In the international setting, the nurse leader is most often in the mentor role, which requires teaching and guiding with a great deal of patience, both in dealing with transcultural challenges and in communicating with multinational nurses. I have experienced many personal hazards in mentoring. An excessive giving of energies can cause the relationship to become strained without returns in the form of colleagueship, and significant transformation of the mentee to become a mentor for others. However, the futurity of nursing reveals some unexpected behaviors when least expected. This was evidenced recently at the annual education summit of the National League for Nursing, when a Saudi nurse, whom I had mentored and taught at the graduate level at King Saud University, attended, and was finally reaching out to learn and grow to be able to mentor others. What comes around goes around and if you are good to people, they will eventually respond to you as a leader. The best advice I can give to future leaders in nursing is to be more passionate about nursing. We are on earth to give of ourselves, to love, to be of service to others. Without this ever-loving spirit, we are nothing. Love life and live it to the fullest. As you age (I am now 71) you become more of whatever you were previously. So your passion for nursing is strengthened and your desire to pass this on to younger generations of nurse leaders is blessed with wisdom of the past. This creates a sense of balance and centering on life's values with flexibility and consideration that you may be following more than leading. And that is good, as leaders of the future are constantly reminded of the need for followership competence in the leadership role. The trouble with being a leader today is you don't know if you are being followed or chased. I hope the heritage of NAQ and its pursuit of excellence in sharing so many aspects of nursing leadership will continue to be a hallmark guidepost for nursing administration leaders in whatever setting throughout the world.
Barbara J. Brown, EdD, RN, CNAA, FAAN, FNAP
Editor-in-chief, Nursing Administration Quarterly