To influence others is pivotal to nursing leadership

Eileen P. Williamson, MSN, RN

Eileen P. Williamson, MSN, RN

Leaders have many traits we admire, from competence and confidence to direction and determination. We describe them with words like strength, honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, commitment and engagement. We see them as thinkers and doers, organizers and risk takers. We admire their vision and the objectives they believe in and set for themselves and others; we look to them to move others ahead and help them succeed.

They are the ones who head projects and people and make themselves not just responsible but accountable for outcomes. They plan strategies and measure successes in their work with others and even in the work they do alone. They keep their eyes on the goals they have set and ensure sustained movement toward them. They move and motivate and above all, they influence.

Leaders sound a lot like nurses to me. In fact, the very essence of our work as nurses makes us leaders, regardless of what our ID badges say. We don’t have to be called directors, administrators or executives to lead. Staff or management, as nurses we all are called to leadership.

We look at nursing leadership where it begins: at the bedside. We highlight various education and mentorship programs around the country — some didactic, others one-on-one mentorship models — aimed at helping nurses become better leaders.

The call to leadership isn’t simply getting others to do things, it’s influencing them to want to do those things. Some say great leaders are born; others say they’re made. Either way, the best ones are those who have influence.

For leadership tips read “Rising Star gives critical tips on leadership” or “Program develops critical care, leadership skills.”

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