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

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Sometimes I'm scared. Concerned that I'll make the wrong decision, I occasionally second-guess my judgments. In these moments I wonder if I really should be leading a group of nurses or if it's by circumstance that I'm in my position. It's unnerving to take risks, share your opinions with others who might vehemently disagree, and deliver professional presentations to people who are more educated or have more experience in a particular subject matter. Believe me, it's intimidating to write an editorial each month for a highly regarded nursing journal. So, what should a leader do to get over his or her fears? Learn to be courageous!!

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Whether you're a novice or seasoned nurse manager, it's completely normal to experience some degree of leadership anxiety. Since bearing a great deal of responsibility is inherent in the role of a leader, it's both appropriate and normal to be apprehensive, uncertain, and even distressed. Your effectiveness as a leader will be judged by the manner in which you respond to this anxiety and how it's interpreted by others.


Needless to say, it takes guts to be a leader. To develop courage, it's necessary to have confidence in your own knowledge, skills, and abilities. Critically analyzing your strengths and limitations, taking advantage of new and challenging opportunities, and fueling your desire to achieve success by thinking creatively will help you gain self-confidence and boost your chance of success.


Give yourself permission to make mistakes. All of us have made them and will continue to make them in the future. Although it might sound trite, it's the most basic lesson of leadership: It's better to have failed than to have never tried. If you don't try, you'll neglect your responsibility to those you lead.


What are you good at? For most of us, that's one of the most difficult questions to answer. Since all of us have achieved some level of success, it'd be beneficial to critically evaluate what actions you took to reach your goal. Did you learn from the experience of others or conduct research on a topic, or had you taken a major risk that paid off? Knowing what you're good at will also help you identify your development needs.


Once you've recognized your limitations, it's time to practice. If you're feeling uncomfortable about completing a new task, speaking in front of an audience, or counseling a direct report on poor performance, it's important to take advantage of every opportunity to practice that skill. Choose a trusted colleague or a friend to role-play your actions. Seek constructive feedback and keep practicing until you feel comfortable that you've performed your best.


Unveiling creativity and innovation takes a considerable amount of courage. Knowing your audience will give you a marked advantage. Striking the right chord with those you wish to lead will engage them in your enthusiasm for success by creating a culture of transparency, honesty, and integrity. Showing that you're courageous enough to take a risk sends a clear message of strong leadership; respect for your work will be the outcome.


The sheer responsibility of leadership is scary, but if you choose courage over complacency, you and your staff benefit. You didn't end up in a leadership role by chance; you're there because someone recognized your ability to influence the work of others. Don't be afraid. Take risks and perform-as leading others is your role.


Richard Hader