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- Qi-Cai Liu
Leadership has been described as “a relational process in which an individual seeks to influence others towards a mutually desirable goal. ” (RNAO, 2013). To be an effective leader, the person must be able to create a compelling vision, build up a group, inspire and motivate the group to engage and achieve that vision (Mind Tools, 2015a). Nursing is a discipline which combines the scientific caring and political action (CNA, 2009). Nursing leadership plays an essential role in the nurse’s life. It influences the healthy outcome of the patients, nurses, organizations, and even the health system. According to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO, 2002), each nurse, across all domains, needs to demonstrate leadership in her/his nursing professional practice by providing and advocating the best service to the client/public. Registered nurses at the entry-level are required to have the ability or skills to build up a trust relationship with the clients and colleagues, to create a safe practice environment, to develop the knowledge in nursing science, and to balance the conflict values and priorities (CNO, 2014). Therefore, all the nurses need to start their leadership development during their education process. As a nursing student, I also plan to develop my leadership skills to meet the requirement from the CNO professional standards. There are two surveys,which are well designed to assess the leadership skills and motivations, are available at Mind Tools website (2015b). To identify my current leadership skills, I completed these two surveys and the results are shown in the appendix A and B. This paper is trying to analyze the two survey results and then to identify the strengths and weakness of my leadership, and then create a plan to improve my leadership skills within my current acute care clinical practice by applying the transformational leadership practices.
Survey Results Analysis
According to the leadership standard (CNO, 2002), nursing leadership requires many personal characteristics and skills, such as respect, relationship, trust, self-knowledge, learning, communication, integrity. To assess my leadership abilities, I completed two well-designed online surveys (Mind Tools, 2015b). One is “How Good are Your Leadership Skills” and one is “Leadership Motivation Assessment”. The survey results are shown in the appendix A and B.
For the survey of “How good are your leadership skills?” there are 18 statements which are designed to assess the personal characteristics and transformational leadership. I got a score of 58 out of 90 (See appendix A), which implies that my current overall leadership is at medium level and there are many areas I need to improve. Personal characteristics refer to the traits of a leader, such as the respect, trust, self-confidence, empathy, positive attitude, honesty, outlook, and emotional intelligence. Personal characteristics are the important part of the leadership. It influences the success or failure of leadership. In the survey, the personal characteristic part includes three components: self-confidence, positive attitude and outlook, and emotional intelligence. The survey designers think that the self-confidence and positive attitude are the two key fundaments for leadership, as they believe that people like to be friends with the person with high self-confidence, and the person with a positive attitude is also easier to inspire and motivate the surround people. The survey designers also think the emotional intelligence is important for the leader to build up interpersonal relationships, which contributes to the leadership. I got a score of 7 out of 10 in all those three components, which indicates that I already have certain personal characteristic strengths. However, there are still some spaces need to improve. For examples, my self-confidence will fluctuate according to my abilities to perform certain things. I may have a negative attitude in a helpless situation. I may bring my personal emotion into the workplace when I lost control of it. To be an effective nursing leader in the future, I need to strength these leadership related personal characteristics, as well as those didn’t include in the survey.
Transformational leadership refers to a process leadership style that the leader identifies the requirement of change, creates a vision, delivers the vision to the team, and inspires the team to execute the change (Wikipedia, 2015a). Transformational leadership is one dominating theory in the nursing leadership practice and research (Hutchinson and Jackson, 2013). In the survey of “How good are your leadership skills?” the transformational leadership part consists five components (Mind Tools, 2015c): providing a compelling vision of the future, motivating people to deliver the vision, being a good role model, managing performance effectively, and providing support and stimulation. I got a score of 7 out of 10 in the components of being a good role model and managing performance effectively, which indicates that I will be able to present myself as an example for the followers and manage performance by setting up clear rules or expected targets. I got a score of 13 out 20 in the component of providing support and stimulation, which implies there are more spaces to improve my ability of stimulating the followers and my competency of providing support during the facilitating process. I usually think people need to very smart to stimulate other people, otherwise it will be very hard. For the component of providing a compelling vision of the future, I got a score of 6 out of 10, which indicates I am not good at providing a good vision. That is certainly true as I thought it is too hard or complicate to make a plan for the future as there are so many unpredictable changes would occur. However, I just learned that a good leader is able to adapt to the changing of the environment during the progress. Therefore, I need to develop this ability from now. I only got a score 4 out of 10 in the component of the motivating people to deliver the vision, which is the worst score over the all parts of the survey. However, it showed out the truth that I am not good at to motivate someone else to deliver the vision. To be a good leader, it is not only required to create and deliver a vision, but also required to be able to motivate other people to help him/her to deliver the vision. Thus, I need to put more effort to improve this ability in the future nursing practice.
For the second survey of “The leadership motivation assessment”(Mind Tools, 2015d), there are 14 statements which are designed to assess the motivation to lead. I got a score of 51 out of 70 (See appendix B), which implies that my current motivation to lead is at medium level and needs to improve. I always think that lead other people do something is the most challenging task. If people don’t have good leadership skills, they will feel very stressful as the majority of their lead attempts will be not succeed. Based on this thinking, my motivation to be a leader is not very high. I am like to communicate with and build up positive relationships with other people. I am also like to participate group activities, and contribute my ideas to them. It is fine for me to help other people to fix the problems. However, when it comes to motivating some people to do something, I am not very confident with that. I do not like to face the frustration when receiving the refuse. I also do not know how to deal with those people who are hard to be motivated. As a result, I usually like to cooperate with other people rather than to lead or motivate them. However, as a nursing student, I am required to develop my leadership competencies to meet the professional standards (CNO, 2002). Therefore, it is the time for me to promote my leadership motivation.
Based on the above analysis, I identified some my leadership strengths, which including: self-confidence, positive attitude and outlook, emotional intelligence, being a good role model, managing performance effectively. However, to be a good leader, I think these areas still need to further develop in the future practice. Besides that, I also found my weaknesses to be a leader, which including: providing a compelling vision of the future, motivating people to deliver the vision, providing support, as well as increasing motivation to lead. I need to start now to put some effort to improve these weaknesses.
Motivation Skills Development Plan
As mentioned above, leadership is one of the seven nursing professional standards (CNO, 2002). Therefore, as a nursing student, I need to cultivate my leadership competencies and develop my leadership skills from now. Based on the two surveys, I identified several weaknesses in my leadership, such as providing a compelling vision of the future, motivating people to deliver the vision, providing support, as well as increasing motivation to lead. I think all of those areas are deserve to improve as they are the important components of leadership. However, in contrast with others, I think the skill of motivating people to deliver the vision is very urgent for me to improve as I only got a score of 4 out of 10 in the first survey. Here, I am trying to set up a plan to develop motivating skills during my current acute care clinical practice. As mentioned above, the main barrier for me to motivate other people is that I don’t know how to motivate them, and I lack some skills. Therefore, the goal of this plan is to identify some strategies and develop my motivating competency through applying them in the clinical practice. After reviewing some literature articles, I find the following three strategies are helpful for the development.
My first strategy is to set up effective visions in the clinical practice. According to the Mind Tools (2015e), setting up a clear and achievable vision is essential to build up a motivating environment. There is no motivation if there is no vision. The ambiguous and immeasurable vision will increase the challenge to motivate. An achievable and challenging vision will make people feel more important and valuable, and result in easier to motivate. Therefore, to improve motivating ability, I need to develop my ability for providing an effective vision, which is also one of my leadership weaknesses from the survey result. To achieve that, I plan to take the following tactics in the clinical practice. First, I will try to design some effective visions or goals which relate to the acute nursing care. According to Mind Tools (2015e), an effective goal should have the features of specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time (SMART). I will make sure each goal can meet these five features after designing. For example, during the patient discharge education, I will create a SMART goal like this: patient will state that he knew how to use the leg bag catheter before the discharge. Second, I will ensure each goal is consistent. According to the Mind Tools (2015e), if a goal is inconsistent with the person’s long term goals, it will cause the person confusion and go to the wrong directions. Therefore, in the clinical practice, I will assess each proposed goal to see whether it matches the patient’s long term goals. For example, if I provide a goal which is not consistent with the patient’s other goals, it will be every hard or even impossible to motivate this patient to achieve it. Third, I will put some challenge in the goal. According to the Mind Tools (2015e), people usually work harder if you put more expects of them. If a goal is too simple and too easy to achieve, people may not be motivated to do it as it doesn’t have any challenge. People are like to perform important, valuable changes. For example, if I set a goal to motivate other nursing students to increase their communication times with their patients during each shift, the nursing students may think it is too simple to do. Therefore, putting challenge in the goal will increase the possibility for motivation. In summary, I believe my competency in providing effective visions will be improved if I can persistently apply the above three tactics in the clinical practice.
My second strategy to improve the motivating skill is to build trust relationships with the patients, nurse staffs, instructor, and other nursing students during the clinical practice. As we know, having a trust relationship is the foundation to motivate other people in the leadership practice, and trust can bring out the best in each individual (RNAO, 2013). Therefore, I need to learn some trust relationship building skills to improve my motivating ability. To build up and maintain a trust relationship throughout the clinical practice, I plan to take the following tactics which are the recommendations from the Best Practice Guideline (RNAO, 2013). First, I will show my care, respect, and concerns. I will recognize and respect the different values and beliefs without judgement and criticism. When providing nursing care to the patient, I will respect the patient autonomy decision. I will show my empathy and provide nursing care to the patients for their illness. Second, I will demonstrate integrity and fairness during the practice. I will openly share my values and beliefs to the patients and other nursing students. I will increase the culturally sensitive during the practice. I will set up clear performance standards to make sure the fairness during the nursing care. If I made a mistake by accident, I will admit it and take the responsibility. I will also keep the commitments during the nursing care. For example, if I said to the patient that I will come back to see him/her soon, I will implement it. Otherwise, I will lose the trust of this patient. Third, I will demonstrate the role competency and promote the teamwork. I will apply the medical and pharmacological knowledge, as well as the relationship and leadership knowledge during the practice. I will promote my collaborative relationship with other health work providers. I will give assistance to the other nursing students when they needed. I will also receive and acknowledge the helps from other nursing students and nurse staffs in the unit. In summary, I will be able to build up a trust relationship based on the above three tactics. However, it may be harder to maintain a trust relationship than building it. There are so many factors can cause the losing of trust, such as the inconsistency between the actions and says, seeking for the personal interesting, lie, and withhold information (RNAO, 2013). Therefore, I need to put more efforts on that during the clinical practice.
My third strategy to improve my motivating ability is to identify the differences between individuals. To achieve the goal of motivating, rigid techniques should be avoided as each individual has his/her specific features. According to the Hersey Blanchard situational leadership theory (Wikipedia, 2015b), there are four mature level of the followers: M1, M2, M3, and M4. The M1 followers are lacking specific skills and are unwilling to make changes. The M2 followers are lacking specific skills, but are willing to make changes. The M3 followers are experienced, but unwilling to make changes. The M4 followers are experienced and willing to make changes. As a result, different motivation skills should be adapted according to the follower’s maturity level. For example, when I am trying to motivate a patient to make some healthy behavior changes, I will firstly identify the maturity level of this patient by assessing his/her willingness and capacity. If the patient has the willingness and capacity, I may just need to tell him/her to make the change. If the patient has willingnesses but not has capacity, I may need to find out the tools to help her/him build up the capacity. If the patient doesn’t have willingness but has capacity, I may need to focus on the strategies of motivation, such as assisting the patient to identify and overcome the barriers. If the patient does not have the both willingness and capacity, it will be more challenge as I am not only need to motivate but also need to help build up the capacity. In this way, I will be able to use different techniques to motivate people according to their characteristics.
By applying the above three strategies in my current acute care clinical practice, I anticipate to improve my competencies of setting up compelling visions, building up trust relationship, and identifying the differences between individuals in clinical. As a result, I will increase my ability of motivation at the end. During this process, I will also be able to evaluate the ethical and legal nursing care standards in the current acute care unit when I am designing the compelling vision. I will learn how to evaluate the professional standards and guidelines and apply them in the clinical practice. For example, I learned the strategies of building up trust relationship from the Best Practice Guideline (RNAO, 2013), and I will use this knowledge to build up the trust relationship in the clinical practice. I will learn how to analysis the leadership theories and use them to lead the change during nursing practice. For example, I will use the Hersey Blanchard situational leadership theory to assess the maturity level of each individual. After obtaining some motivation competencies, I will try to practice little leadership among the nursing student group.
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Mind Tools. (2015c). How good are your leadership skills? Retrieved from: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_50.htm.
Mind Tools. (2015d). The leadership motivation assessment: How motivated are you to lead? Retrieved from: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_01.htm.
Mind Tools. (2015e). How good are your motivation skills? Retrieved from: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_67.htm.
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College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). (2002). Professional Standards: Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.cno.org/Global/docs/prac/41006_ProfStds.pdf.
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Wikipedia. (2015a). Transformational leadership. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformational_leadership
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Hutchison, M. & Jackson, D. (2013). Transformational leadership in nursing: towards a more critical interpretation. Nursing Inquiry, 20 (1), 11–22. doi DOI: 10.1111/nin.12006.
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