1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, Editor-in-Chief

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One of my staff members sought me out, looking for advice. At the end of our conversation she said, "I knew you'd say that!!" I was pleased with her reply because it confirmed that my behavior is consistent, affording staff the opportunity to predict my response. Do you ever experience anxiety prior to a conversation with a colleague because you're unable to predict his or her reaction? Does this behavior lend itself to avoidance, mistrust, or hostility? By evading a difficult conversation, you could jeopardize meeting organizational goals for fear of reprisal. Ask yourself, how can I develop and incorporate the necessary leadership skills into my daily practice to ensure that my interactions are dependable?

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Organizations are realizing that a leader's psychological makeup plays a part in his or her success. Many healthcare organizations require candidates for leadership positions to undergo psychological screening prior to joining the staff. These examinations repeatedly ask similar questions using different scenarios. Although you might feel as though your tolerance level rather than your leadership profile is being analyzed, you're really being tested to determine your ability to problem solve and use critical-thinking skills that can measure the consistency of your performance.


Dealing with issues in a consistent manner shouldn't be confused with inflexible behavior. Consistency refers to the reliability of the process you use to evaluate situations that require your intervention. It's important to be sure your decisions are made in harmony with the attainment of the organization's key objectives and strategic imperatives. The organization's goals should be developed in collaboration with nurse leaders and staff to ensure commitment from all levels. An aim of my organization is to "grow our own" nursing staff by providing an opportunity for continuing education. To be successful, managers must be flexible with the staff's schedule to accommodate school. Sometimes this requires negotiation, but because staff members are aware that it's an organizational goal, they can rely on their manager to grant their request.


Although at times remaining fair to all parties involved can be a daunting task, it's an essential component of effective leadership. Your personal relationships, bias, or disposition shouldn't be a contributing factor in resolving problems. Favoritism will result in severe consequences, poor morale, and an overtly disgruntled workforce. It's critical that you make decisions reasonably, after taking into account their effect on all staff members. Minimizing exceptions, effectively communicating by sharing your rationale, and ensuring accountability are tools that can be successful when dealing with difficult issues.


Remember, consistency in action builds trust. Staff members who perceive their leader as reliable and dependable will learn they can count on him or her to make decisions with both their input and best interests at heart. Trust will develop over time and be substantiated through positive interactions. Honesty is the key ingredient to promote and sustain a trusting environment. Even when it's necessary to convey a difficult message, it's important to be truthful and forthcoming in an effort to promote harmony and mutual respect between you and your staff.


One technique you can use is to develop "sound bites," or repeatedly use the same phrases to convey a message. Using this communication technique ensures that you're sending information to your staff in a consistent manner. Carefully script sound bites to guarantee clarity and effectiveness.


Don't keep people guessing your stance on an issue. Be sure you take into consideration what's best for your staff and the organization-then consistently communicate it to ensure success.