1. Hinton, Tommye MSN, RN, CPHQ, NEA-BC

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Ascending to nursing leadership is one of the most defining moments of a nurse's career. Leadership comes with many daily expectations and challenges, as well as strategic aims and endless accountability. Therefore, new nurse managers must develop a comprehensive personal action plan to ensure success at every level and in all settings.

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A stronger you equals better results

Effective nurse leaders are vital to achieving hospital goals. As a CNO with more than 18 years' experience, I learned firsthand that the key to nurse manager effectiveness is developing your personal assets. The nurse manager position is the most pivotal and critical in any healthcare organization. Likewise, patient care is the primary product of hospitals, and nursing is center stage. However, in many hospitals nationwide, nurse managers aren't modeling the positive leadership qualities that encourage others to follow along their path. Nurse managers who focus on self-improvement perform more effectively and, in turn, promote a more positive image of nurse leadership.1


Throughout the years, I've adopted an approach that embraces a commitment to an individual's inner self. There's a reciprocal relationship between developing "me" and achieving organizational goals. A stronger "me" means better results personally and organizationally. In my opinion, self-focus is a worthy exercise that produces better performance. Likewise, personal leadership effectiveness demonstrates the desired competencies that lead to success within an organizational culture. Investing in you can be fun, uplifting, and not at all burdensome. "The cultivated self is the leader's greatest tool."2


As a result of my longtime tenure as a nurse leader, I've developed a conceptual model for improving leadership effectiveness using evidence-based tools and principles rolled into personal accountability. This model emphasizes four components that highlight self-focus, self-insight, and self-awareness. The components are as follows:


* Craft your personal mission statement; become a person who's mission-driven.


* Invest in yourself; advocate for and participate in professional development opportunities.


* Learn the facets of effective communication; be committed to becoming an excellent communicator.


* Demonstrate integrity above all else; strive to be a person of influence by making integrity and accountability your personal creed.



Develop a personal mission and reflect it in your daily actions

Your mission statement is about "defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself."3 All hospitals and nursing departments have mission statements clearly visible in a main lobby or as part of a strategic plan. A mission statement provides a roadmap for the organization to follow by defining its goals, fundamental purpose, and reason for existence. It also articulates an organization's commitment to stakeholders, customers, and the community. The same goes for an individual. Based on my experience, successful nurse managers are mission-driven individuals. They devote the necessary time to define and develop their own personal mission statement and then willingly share it with their team to strengthen relationships and promote transparency. Equally important, a mission statement becomes your own personal constitution-the basis for life-directing decisions and making daily choices that impact you and those around you. A personal mission will launch your career, ground you in turbulent times, and catapult you in good times.


Mission statements may change as our profession grows. My mission statement as a professional nurse was: "To model excellence consistently in conversation, documentation, and appearance. I'll value lifelong learning and willingly share and learn from coworkers." As a CNO, my mission was: "To create and maintain a work environment where nurses are empowered to practice with competence, confidence, and compassion, and produce superior outcomes daily. My values of integrity, lifelong learning, and passion for excellence will be woven into every aspect of my being." Now, my personal mission is: "To influence and inspire nurses as leaders to value, display, and promote excellence."


Invest in yourself by engaging in development opportunities

Effective nursing leadership is essential to creating and promoting a healthy work environment.4 One of the first things novice nurse managers should do is immerse themselves in available developmental opportunities. Many organizations have basic leadership development curricula or programs to assist new nurse managers. Additionally, some organizations have mandatory programs that all new managers must complete. To augment formal professional development, mentoring may be available to support new managers through the initial weeks or months of leadership. Evidence shows that mentoring is a useful tool for novice managers and a key component of career development and planning.5 The value of professional development and mentoring programs can't be minimized. Whether formal or informal, the new nurse manager should participate in all available professional development opportunities to ensure successful future outcomes.


Become an expert communicator

Good communication is essential for personal leadership effectiveness. Nurses and other leaders consistently list communication and listening skills as effective leadership attributes when queried.6 Effective communicators are comfortable engaging on an intellectual and emotional level, and have the skills to achieve understanding and influence. Central to this notion is dialog and the ability to hold meaningful conversations with others, including management, clinicians, colleagues, and patients and families. Attaining excellent communication techniques by practicing and applying them is essential when improving leadership effectiveness. How healthcare leaders behave beyond their competencies-that is, what they say and do in interactions with others to achieve outcomes-is what matters.7


During my tenure as a CNO, the most successful nurse managers on my team were excellent communicators. These individuals utilized various facets of communication, including listening, presenting, coaching, feedback, and spontaneous interaction in sensitive situations. Additionally, they used terms such as "let's talk," "can we talk," or "I have something I'd like to share with you" to engage others in meaningful conversations. Furthermore, nurse managers with excellent communication skills use various methods to communicate to a team that's on duty 24/7. In addition to traditional methods, such as weekly staff meetings, memos, and a newsletter, other methods, such as huddles, 10-minute briefings, email, and text messaging, can help increase manager effectiveness. In my opinion, a nurse manager who learns essential interpersonal communication skills and effective communication methods guarantees success in his or her new leadership role.


Focus on integrity to be a credible voice

Becoming a person of influence involves learning and adopting certain behaviors in the organizational culture. Integrity is a key behavior in nursing practice. When you establish yourself as a person of integrity, you become a reliable and credible voice within the professional practice environment. Another true measure of developing influence within the organization is practicing accountability to produce desired outcomes. Know the metrics that define your success and stay focused, constantly revising your action-focused improvement plan. Keep outcomes/results visible to the team to ensure buy-in and support. Take advantage of organizational colleagues who can help teach performance improvement techniques and strategies. Likewise, always know the status of departmental metrics and be prepared to discuss them when asked by an administrator or in an appropriate committee setting.


Responsible and successful

Achieving personal leadership effectiveness is essential in today's professional practice environment. Novice nurse managers must take responsibility for self-development and devote the time and attention to becoming a successful leader.




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