1. Section Editor(s): Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM

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At the Nursing2013 Symposium in March, I presented a general session entitled, "Developing the Leader in You: A Career Plan for Success." This talk blended personal experience, formal leadership education, and keen observations on what worked-and didn't work-for various people and situations over the years. My key message was that honing leadership skills in any role promotes professional effectiveness and accomplishment.

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Now if you're thinking, "I don't need leadership skills-I'm not a manager," realize that leadership and management require two different skill sets. You don't need a management title to be a good leader. You do need self-confidence, courage, initiative, and a strong sense of accountability.


The essence of leadership involves the power to motivate and influence people. This power can be wielded positively to engage others in worthy action, or negatively through coercion or punishment. Although the latter approach may be justified in certain extreme situations such as preserving patient safety, it won't foster strong team bonds if it's the predominant approach. Power is toxic whenever it's employed to further a personal agenda at the expense of good ethics or teamwork.


Here's an example: Negative Nellie complains that several new graduates were hired and asserts, "We have no responsibility to help them-their failure will show management that only experienced nurses should be hired." She glares at the staff and expects tacit agreement-and she may get it. Nellie makes the schedule, and nonsupporters could get the "assignment from hell."


But then, Positive Paul engages the group and transforms the negative atmosphere completely. He's dynamic and has developed great working relationships with his colleagues. He understands unit politics and sees the big picture. Smiling, he says, "Nellie-having a bad morning? I know you don't mean that. You're too much the professional. Come on folks, we have new nurses to inspire!" Paul saves the day, preserving everyone's dignity in the process. Of course, he later shares the situation with his manager privately.


The power of positive influence requires emotional intelligence and the motivation to connect with people in a way that engenders trust and confidence. Credentials and clinical skills are no substitute for these leadership attributes. It's the wise nurse who establishes this foundation for personal excellence.


Until next time-


Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM

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Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2013 Vice President: Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.