1. Brown, Frederick M. Jr. DNP, RN, ONC, NAON Director

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Hard work and determination have been key components in the formula for many successful leaders. In addition to these characteristics however, many of us require outside assistance as we strive to reach our professional goals. This assistance may come in the form of formal and informal education, workshops, and independent study. For some, the support may also come from colleagues, supervisors or professional organizations. If you plan to take a leadership position in NAON, my question to you is: Are you prepared to take the lead?

Figure. Frederick M.... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure.

There are many opportunities for professional support available to individuals considering a leadership position. One can seek a coach, a preceptor; use a role model, a counselor or a mentor. The support method one chooses is entirely up to the individual and the resources available. Understanding the purpose and advantages of each type of supportive relationship will help you decide which method is best for you.


Preceptors can best be described as a teacher or an instructor. Almost all of us have had a preceptor during orientation to our first nursing position. The relationship was brief and often assigned. The highlight of that relationship was individual assistance as we learned new skills in a new environment. The preceptor was responsible to ensure you understood your role in the new environment.


Role modeling is a process in which the individual mimics the behavior or skills taught by a more experienced person. In nursing, this technique is often used with nursing students. The instructor performs a skill and the student "models" the behavior or skill. Counseling is used to help improve a person's performance. The counselor provides feedback on the individual's performance. The feedback is usually verbal and/or written.


Coaching and mentoring are very similar concepts. A coach can be assigned to help an individual improve performance in an area of weakness. In nursing, an example may be coaching a person through starting an intravenous line. Life coaching describes the ability to help an individual to develop life skills such as healthy eating or problem solving techniques. Lastly, mentoring can be defined as focusing on the development of the individual's career versus organizational needs. I believe that this is the most desirable approach as mentoring has an individual and personal focus.


NAON has revised its mentoring program to help aspiring members learn the basic responsibilities of holding an Executive Board position. This 6-month program covers core skills not only to be a successful NAON leader, but strategies to improve your leadership skills in all areas of your work. Much of the material has been linked to business literature to give the mentee a broad leadership perspective.


For the past several years, members have been completing willingness to serve forms requesting to be mentored. This program was revised to more fully address those needs. If you are considering applying to our program, I would like to persuade you to take the plunge by highlighting a few features. The program is a 6-month, self-paced, online program designed for the busy NAON member. At the beginning of the process, you will be matched with a past or present Executive Board member. You will be in contact with your mentor for a monthly phone call, and there will be materials online to review and discuss during your monthly call. It is just that easy!!


I would encourage you to take full advantage of your membership benefits. We are ready to help. Are you ready to take the lead?