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

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Relationship-Based Care has been a successful model of care in many organizations around the country. Maybe yours is one of them. What does a care model have to do with nursing management? A lot! The criticality of effective 360[degrees] relationships is fundamental to a successful leader. It really is all about relationships, and not only with our patients.

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Just as our point-of-care staff members have interdependent responsibilities, our work as leaders is reliant on a mosaic of people. We don't do the work ourselves, we rely on our teams, whether direct report, peer, or collegial. No matter what your scope of responsibility-from project to team to unit to division-being a leader requires understanding how the puzzle pieces fit together and having effective relationships with those who make up the parts. All of them. Without effective relationships, the work falters, value is lost, and patients suffer.


When you have healthy relationships with your staff members, they're engaged and motivated. If you work well with your boss, he or she has your back. When you collaborate with your medical counterpart, it sets the foundation for a true team approach to patient care and problem solving. Relationship building is a nonnegotiable aspect of leadership practice. In an environment of cooperation, anything is possible.


Cooperation isn't built in a day. It takes skill, time, and often patience. Effective communication, as in everything else, is vital. Seeking people out, listening, asking, and acknowledging-all of these communication skills matter. They should be in your toolbox and used all day, every day. You've probably noticed that these are the same techniques we teach our staff members when building relationships with patients and their families.


Just as we lose the magic of nursing (as well as HCAHPS scores) when we fail to have effective patient relationships, we lose the magic of leadership when we fail to have effective working relationships. We succumb to transactional, rather than transformational, leadership. This isn't to say we ignore our deliverables in favor of small talk. In fact, that isn't the case at all. Building relationships isn't about meaningless trivialities; rather, it's much deeper and ensures that we can produce those deliverables.


Nuisance issues do get in the way: lack of mutual trust, personality differences, and competing interests to name a few. All are surmountable. There are few circumstances in which you can't find common ground if you put the energy into it, along with an attitude of caring and valuing others. If you're lonely at work or find yourself working in a silo, you most likely aren't succeeding at these crucial behaviors. That may sound judgmental; however, we must take a hard look at ourselves. Show me a failing leader, and I guarantee there are ineffective relationships with important team members.


You've learned many of these things in your personal lives-rapport with family, friends, teachers, neighbors, or even your dry cleaner can make or break your day. Work is no different. Nurture important relationships. Your success depends on them.



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