The analysis of a top down change process in my organisation has led me to a critical understanding of processes, my own place within these organisational processes and the effects my role and competence can have on the professional experiences of others. (Please see appendix for summary of scenario). Kerfoot (2004) suggests that one role of leaders is to synthesise information and then channel it to improve aspects of the organisation, placing interpersonal communication at the forefront of leadership activity (Chambers, 2002). In this instance, information is power, and one fault of the process describe below is that information was not shared in a timely or inclusive fashion. Kerfoot (2004) describes information as leaders’ primary resource, but I would argue that the primary power of bad leaders lies in their ability to control that information.
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Grossman (2007) describes communication as one of the key competencies of the effective leader, but there are a number of other dimensions of leadership which are equally as important. This scenario highlights communication as a major negative factor in the implementation of change. However, there are other aspects of leadership which could be employed to ameliorate the situation: conflict management; collaboration and networking; teamworking; decision-making and troubleshooting; the ability to understand and so work with (or manipulate) the organisational culture (Grossman, 2007). They should also be proactive, manage negative situations and emotions cognitively and have a degree of emotional intelligence (Jooste, 2004). It is obvious of that the employment of these competencies might have prevented the challenges which arose from the process described below. Transformational leadership (Thyer, 2003) would allow for improved multi-way communication, by allowing the leader to establish new and different lines of communication with and between staff at different levels (McCarthy, 2006). Transformational leadership may also address the staffing issues associated with this challenging scenario (Thyer, 2003).
Healthcare professionals, particularly nursing staff, engage with, develop and reinforce such behaviours constantly as fundamental competencies for effective patient care. Grossman (2007) argues that good leaders must have demonstrated efficacy in patient communication, which suggests that all nurses have such abilities. Nurses also have unique insider knowledge, which should have informed a full system analysis (McCarthy, 2006) prior to the implementation of the change. Including the staff in this process might also facilitate both the change the process by engaging the staff in meaningful, change-related communication and activity from the outset (McCarthy, 2006).
Chambers (2002) suggests that the mark of a true leader might be someone who can se the vision, share it with others and lead them on the journey that makes it happen. The lack of such a guide, a true leader is both evident in this scenario and indicative of an area of future need, where the existing resources of those who already translate organisational conceptualisation of service delivery in to the pragmatic and practical aspects of quality patient care should be utilised rather than wasted. Senior nurses, such as myself, possess these qualities and should be enabled to express them.
Chambers, N. (2002) Nursing leadership: the time has come to just do it. Journal of Nursing Management. 10 127-128.
Grossman, S. (2007) Assisting Critical Care Nurses in Acquiring Leadership Skills. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing 26 (2) 57-65.
Jooste, K. (2004). Leadership: a new perspective. Journal of Nursing Management 12 27-223.
Kerfoot, K. (2004) Leaders and windshields: the art of deflecting essential information. Dermatology Nursing 16 (6) 545-546, 568.
McCarthy, J. (2006) Five more concepts for creating change. Nursing Management September 2005 Available from: www.nursingmanagement.com. Accessed 17-7-07.
Thyer, G.L. (2003) Dare to be different: transformational leadership may hold the key to the nursing shortage. Journal of Nursing Management 11 73-79.
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