Out with the old, in with the new!
It’s 7:30 am; I greet the night shift with a smile and a chipper “Good Morning”! I am confident and I am ready to start the day, proudly providing care to oncology patients. But no more than a few minutes of attending morning shift report, I quickly become deflated and feel defeated.
I remember my jaw dropping, mostly in disappointment, as our nursing leader sat at the morning shift report table, eagerly ready to point out the unit’s unmet outcomes, with a blind eye to all of the hard work we had done. This strategy was used as way to motivate staff. We, the staff, thought it was offensive. This leader was concerned with only day-to-day operations and how the unit affected her leadership position within the organization. Over time, this leader and the selected motivating style, led to a struggle among staff and teamwork.
The unit was falling apart. Staff was negative and drained. And the health care organization now the viewed the unit as a problem, but recognized that there was a need for change. This recognition created a buzz of talk among staff regarding the possibility of positive change. After patiently waiting, I remember rejoicing upon receiving the news that our unit would soon be welcoming a new leader! My heart felt light with joy, also heavy because this unit was so disconnected.
Our new leader came with hopes for improvement. One-on-one staff meetings were arranged in order to gain an understanding of each individual’s vision for the unit. Goals and barriers were discussed, attitudes were explored, and ideas for the future were shared. Monthly staff meetings were started as way to share the vision and decision-making, as well as the opportunity to reward staff for hard work. Trust was gained and the nursing unit’s environment became positive.
Burns (1978) originally developed the concept of transformational leadership, defined as a process where leaders and followers engage in a mutual process to inspire and raise each other up (Marshall, 2011). This nursing leader came to the unit at a time of crisis with the ability to inspire, instil trust, and successfully share a vision. The nurse leader was able engage staff to follow the change and to become an active part in what was to become something greater. The leader displayed commitment, support, and empathy during the difficult time on the unit. The characteristics of transformational leadership played an important role in the change that was created.
I have become empowered to be a transformational leader. I have now gone beyond my bedside nursing duties by becoming involved in professional organizations and furthering my education through the pursuit of a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP). It’s 7:30 am; I greet everyone I meet with a chipper “Good Morning”! I will not be deflated or defeated!
Burns J.M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.
Marshall, E. S. (2011). 'Expert clinician to transformational leader in a complex healthcare organization'. In E. S. Marshall (Ed.), Transformational Leadership in Nursing: From Expert Clinician to Influential Leader (pp. 1-26). New York: Springer.