1. Section Editor(s): Raso, Rosanne MS, RN, NEA-BC

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Have you been to a group fitness class lately? I'm not going to extol the virtues of calorie burning, endorphin release, and muscle strengthening-although those are worthy pursuits-and I don't want you to feel guilty if you haven't gone down that path. But what an unexpected "a-ha!" moment I had about leadership when reflecting on my favorite instructor-humbling lessons for all of us.

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First, she makes the environment welcoming: big smiles, happy attitude, effusive energy, and great music. If there isn't enough equipment, she gives direction on sharing and adjusts the class so that everyone is engaged and able to participate. Routines are explained and practiced. Do your staff members start their shift with joyful welcomes and clear expectations in an environment of learning? This is so simple, yet so important.


Encouragement, constructive coaching, and praise further the positive environment. Our instructor makes comments such as, "You look great" and "You're my best class" throughout the session. She catches you being good. Don't we all know that continuous feedback is the key to change and improvement? After your staff members are clear on expectations, it's the observations and feedback-both affirmative and unfavorable, from either leadership or peers-that mold behavior. Of course, praise is a no-brainer to solidify behaviors aligned with your values.


Then, there are modifications demonstrated for various participant levels of fitness. Yes, I know there are base competencies that everyone has to have in our workplaces, but isn't it important to modify assignments to match varying patient needs with differing staff levels of practice? This is a critical component of right staffing; it isn't a numbers game.


Our instructor also inspires the class to leave our comfort zone. Sound familiar? It's one of my favorite phrases. Staff development is a crucial part of a transformative environment. As staff members grow, better outcomes are achieved for both patients and the organization. A good leader gently pushes staff to move beyond the status quo in personal developments, as well as departmental achievements. We also monitor for fatigue and pushing it too far, safeguarding a healthy workforce.


There's an environmental safety component that our instructor maintains. Equipment handling, spacing, orderliness, and basic safety procedures are repeated and ensured throughout the class. Jeopardizing one's own safety or the safety of others in the gym isn't permitted. This looks like a culture of safety to me, that somewhat elusive way of life we're constantly aspiring to achieve in the healthcare environment. Maybe the lesson from the gym is to live it every day and never allow at-risk behavior. That's how you build culture.


Another quality of our instructor is that she's approachable, she encourages dialog, and she stays after class for questions-she's there for us. No matter what your level on the organizational tree, knowing someone has your back and is available to talk through issues is one of the greatest gifts in the workplace. I hope your staff members feel confident in speaking up, sharing ideas, and asking for assistance.


Lessons from the gym seem to be centered on the essential skills needed to create a safe and healthy practice environment. These are skills that transcend generational differences, cultural disparities, differentiated practice, and every other excuse for low-performing teams. Be open to inspiration and learning about strong leadership from all aspects of life. You'll be surprised what you discover in unexpected places.



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