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As a nurse working in an Outpatient Surgical Unit, leadership skills are very critical. First, nurses are the link between the hospital and patients and their families. To patients, the nurse represents the hospital management. Additionally, the administration expects that nurses make decisions in the interest of the patient, and also that of the health facility. It can be argued that nurses do not have to be designated a specific leadership position for them to be viewed as leaders. Indeed, as Delmatoff and Lazarus (2014, 247) explain, nurses are by default servants. They are called upon to serve their patients diligently, ensuring that their path to recovery is not only fast but also efficient. Add to this; nurses spend hours and late shifts trying to make their patients as comfortable as possible to enhance recovery. This paper will analyze four main course topics that apply to my experiences as a nurse, and that I deem most crucial at this stage of my career. The four selected topics are Establishing Priorities, Servant Leadership, Attitude Matters, and The Necessity of Self-Discipline and Personal Growth.
In any health facility, priorities are crucial. Lipman-Blumen (2017, 175) explains that medical emergencies highlight the importance of establishing priorities in the health facility. The choice of which patient gets attended to first is not easy. One has to rely on their leadership skills and work ethics to make such life-or-death choices. Many of the cases that are referred to the Outpatient Surgical Unit are not necessarily life or death. However, the health professionals still have to decide who is attended to first. In many cases, it is on a first-come, first-served basis.
One can argue that establishing priorities is only applicable for novice nurses. Indeed, before ward rounds, students might not understand the importance of time to a healthcare professional. It has been suggested that all new nurses be oriented to time management and proper prioritization during induction. Whereas this might help novices, it is crucial to point out that nurses who have worked for years also struggle with some of the consequences of prioritization. As Rhode (2017, 1607) points out, a patient might not always appear sick. Indeed, lab tests are the best way of determining the treatment options for your patient. However, patients who are hurt physically, by default, appear to need more help than those who are not visibly hurt or in pain. Assumptions such as this can lead to life-threatening situations that might be avoided. To curb the challenges of such, nurses are often advised to prioritize work based on the tests done and not the physical condition of the patient.
It is vital to discuss the importance of decisiveness in establishing priorities. As Maxwell (2018, 86) explains, decisions have a great impact on whether a situation becomes a problem. As stated, the issue of prioritization might not seem useful for a nurse in the Outpatient Surgical Unit. However, indecisiveness can lead to many problems in the said unit. I am obliged to make decisions fast and to abide by the consequences of those decisions. Failure to do this might lead to more harm than good. Decisiveness relates closely to confidence. One has to be confident that the actions taken are the right ones. Wang (2016, 14) emphasizes the need to be prepared for fast decision-making in critical situations.
Additionally, as a nurse, I will always have to make decisions, whether they are life-threatening or not. I also have to make personal decisions to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Maxwell (2018, 33) explains that making everything a priority is similar to making nothing a priority. I have to weigh the pros and cons of every decision I make, whether it is a treatment plan or a follow-up schedule for the different patients to ensure a full and fast recovery. In regards to work-life balance, I have to make decisions on whether I should take the extra shift and help my patients or take the much-needed rest.
To some, the decision might not seem significant. However, for a nurse, the decision can either mean not resting for long hours or resting and feeling guilty about leaving your patients to the care of another person. To curb this, nurses are advised to acknowledge the importance of rest and also trust their colleagues to do the best they can during the shift change (Hill, 2016, 45). This will, in turn, lead to a healthy work-life balance ensuring that the nurse in question is alert to make the right health choices for his or her patients. To become better at establishing priorities, I have to learn time management.
A common misconception is that leadership is about being number one. According to Maxwell (2018, 124) leadership is about serving others. Martin-Reeves and Haanaes (2015, 34) explain that servant leadership involves putting the needs of others before yours. Indeed, some of the world’s greatest leaders have been defined as selfless. By being selfless, a leader also tends to be encouraging, allowing other people around him or her to also grow to their full potential. Wang (2016, 17) goes further to state that traditional leadership involves exertion of power. Managers are often associated with this type of leadership.
On the same note, in traditional leadership, the manager sits at the top of the pyramid. Everyone else works to please the boss. A majority of decisions are made by the manager, and the other employees are implementers. On many occasions, the manager will also micro-manage all other employees. Hill (2016, 45) argues that this type of leadership was viable in the early to mid-20th century due to the fast rise of industrialization. However, modern leadership has been shaped by the fact that great leaders were also great servants. The premise is supported by Greenleaf (1991, 2) who states that a great leader has to understand how to be a servant. First, because a leader was a servant, and secondly because modern leadership is about the inverted pyramid where the leader serves the people. It is also important to point out that leadership is given, not taken. Therefore, in many instances, leadership is a result of a promotion from a junior position.
It can be argued that when leaders view themselves as servants, they perform better in their roles. Wang (2016, 17) attributes this to the fact that leaders would have ensured their subordinates perform well, in turn, making the whole organization or department shine. Also, it can be argued that such leaders are flexible and know the flaws of the leadership structure as they were once servants. It is expected that such leaders will do whatever possible to deal with those flaws, making it easier for employees to be more productive.
Servant leadership is vital in my profession. First, nursing, by definition, requires serving others. A person admitted to the Outpatient Surgical Unit needs ultimate care as he or she is not able to do some of the activities of living a healthy person can do. This is especially true for the first few hours after surgery. Also, nurses have to collect all the items the patient needs for a fast recovery at home, and liaise with the family to explain any lifestyle changes that are required. Additionally, servant leadership is crucial in enhancing my career. It is important that I practice proper leadership in preparation for leading others. As Greenleaf (1991, 2) states, the aspiration to lead is only nurtured in a servant. I have this aspiration.
To become a servant leader, I will need to be introspective. Hill (2016, 41) argues that an introspective leader always looks inwards for solutions. Towards this end, I will encourage my colleagues to provide solutions to the challenges we will face. Also, developing a flexible culture is a viable strategy for servant leadership. Hill (2016, 46) explains that the right organizational culture will not only make leadership easy but also give employees the right environment to thrive.
Maxwell (2018, 105) defines attitude as the extra plus in leadership. Indeed, attitude determines whether a leadership style is deemed as successful or not. Delmatoff and Lazarus (2014, 247) argue that a positive attitude goes hand in hand with great leadership. Such an attitude allows a leader to seek solutions to all problems that arise without feeling discouraged. In turn, subordinates also adopt a positive attitude in a trickledown effect. Sander (2017, 41) argues that a positive attitude allows a positive outlook on challenges and failures. Leaders are often faced with challenges that affect productivity. They have to make decisive and fast decisions to curb such challenges. A positive attitude ensures that a leader not only makes the right decision but he or she is also ready for the consequences of the decision made.
Maxwell (2018, 105) goes further and explains that leaders should have a whatever-it-takes attitude. This means that they are willing to go the extra mile to reach their targets. Whereas a whatever-it-takes attitude is important in regards to achieving targets, one has to practice caution when implementing this type of leadership. Such an attitude can push a leader to extremes in an attempt to get what he or she wants. Delmatoff and Lazarus (2014, 247) argue that a whatever-it-takes attitude should be coupled with common sense. A leader will then be able to tell when to be aggressive and when to employ more diplomatic actions.
To fully enjoy the benefits of the right attitude, great leaders are encouraged to incorporate the desired attitude into organizational culture. Organizational culture is critical in enhancing the performance levels of the employees. With the right environment, subordinates will also embrace healthy work competition. This, coupled with a flexible communication strategy will ensure better performance indicators. Proper training would be required to ensure all subordinates understand the importance of having the right attitude despite the position one is in, and the challenges faced. The right attitude will also enhance feelings of accountability. As Wang (2016, 18) points out, accountability is vital to an organization’s success.
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Attitude is also very important in nursing. As stated, nurses have to take care of patients who cannot do any of the identified activities of living. The activities of living include feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, and cleaning oneself after defecation. All these activities require patience and the right attitude. For a nurse, a positive attitude also affects the treatment progress of the patient. Often, nurses are encouraged to be cheerful when interacting with their patients to pass the positive energy to the ailing person.
A positive attitude in nursing will also help the nurse create a healthy work-life balance. This balance is important as it motivates the nurse, allowing him or her to perform better. A positive attitude will also allow a nurse to grow professionally. Delmatoff and Lazarus (2014, 247) suggest that a nurse should have an attitude of pride for the profession. It can be argued that pride in the profession will cultivate respect for the job. In, turn, the nurse will appreciate his or her role in the health facility. To cultivate the right attitude, I will employ an open-minded strategy. Learning from others is vital in developing a positive attitude. Additionally, being open-minded will enhance flexibility in any school of thought. Thus, also encourage adaptability. In nursing, this is critical as each patient is different and has to be treated differently.
The Necessity of Self-Discipline and Personal Growth
Wang (2016, 27) argues that many professionals forget that proper leadership can lead to personal growth. There are two things to consider towards this end. The first is that a great leader will always ensure his or her subordinates grow. The second is that leaders also have to grow professionally and personally. In the first scenario, a leader is obligated to make sure his or her team grows. A great leader will do this by giving his or her subordinates the opportunity to grow. This can be in the form of giving the employees chances to lead different teams, mentor and be mentored, and also creating the right work environment for growth. In the second scenario, a leader can grow by asking questions frequently, keeping the bar of excellence high, and being people-centric (Maxwell, 2018, 173).
Self-discipline is important to a leader as it lowers the chances of over-indulgence. Wang (2016, 32) argues that a leader should be able to follow all the rules set. Many managers fail towards this end. Often, managers will expect employees to behave in a certain way, while they do not behave in the same way. Self-discipline will ensure that such managers also adhere to the rules set. For leadership purposes, self-discipline is especially key in the implementation of organizational culture. Maxwell (2018, 174) argues that a growth habit strengths hope. Thus, a growth habit is also an essential tool in problem-solving. Also, where there is growth, there is change. One, thus, has to be prepared for the change to embrace personal growth.
In my profession, both self-discipline and personal growth are key. In fact, self-disciple will ensure personal growth in the nursing profession. The topic is important as it teaches how a nurse can take advantage of the work ethics to grow personally. By default, a nurse is expected to be self-disciplined. As mentioned, time is a crucial element in any health profession. Time management can only work as a strategy if the nurse involved has self-discipline. The nurse will then be able to take better care of all patients, taking ample time to cater to their needs effectively.
A strategy that can be used to develop both self-discipline and personal growth is developing emotional stability. Emotional stability goes hand in hand with self-discipline. As mentioned, leaders face challenges often. Emotional stability will ensure that such challenges are dealt with appropriately without leaving the person drained or discouraged. One can argue that self-discipline is a product of emotional stability. Additionally, change management strategies are required to ensure personal growth. As stated, growth encourages change. Thus, an effective leader has to be both prepared for change and capable of implementing the change.
In conclusion, leadership is a necessary topic in nursing. Nurses are leaders to both the management and the patients and their families. Four topics from the curriculum apply to my profession as a nurse in an Outpatient Surgical Unit. The four topics are Establishing Priorities, Servant Leadership, Attitude Matters, and The Necessity of Self-Discipline and Personal Growth. In establishing priorities, a nurse has to determine which patients should be attended to first. A nurse by default is also both a leader and a servant. It is the nurse’s duty to serve his or her patient. Thirdly, the nurse must have the right attitude to both feel satisfied with his or her role in the facility, and also help the patient recover. Last but not least, the nurse has to practice self-discipline to record personal growth. All the mentioned will allow a nurse to enjoy his or her job while maintaining the integrity of the job as well.
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