Genevieve M. Frey-Moylan MSN, RN, CPN
Annette Imprescia RN, BSN, CCRN
While there is much time spent focusing on the growth and development of new and established leaders, it is less common to discuss how we are growing the next leaders in the field of nursing. We had the privilege of moderating a session to focus on this very topic. This session generated a multitude of questions for us, including:
Are we growing the next generation of nurses with intention?
Is leadership inherent?
What do you look for in your nurses that demonstrate strong leadership potential?
And perhaps most importantly: Is every nurse a leader?
While we do not have the answers to each of these questions, there were common themes from our focused conversation that illuminated what we do know with some certainty. Yes, we all look for specific skills and abilities. Included are the skills of active listening, clear communication, critical thinking, problem solving, emotional intelligence, decisiveness and humility. While the list could go on and on, we found that participants in our group unilaterally agreed upon these attributes as critical for developing nurses with leadership potential.
We must also foster an environment ripe for Professional Governance where nurses have an intentional space which assures their voice in decision making rings clear. Self-governance within the nursing profession is an organizational imperative where nurses impact patient outcomes and make vital contributions to the multidisciplinary team.
In expanding our session findings to a national lens, Gallup polls have ranked nursing as the “most honest and ethical profession” for 18 years in a row. A Harvard Business Review article surveying 195 global leaders found that “high moral and ethical standards” were the most important of 74 leadership competencies. Does this long history and weight of essential attributes not make nurses the ideal candidates for leadership positions?
If every nurse is a leader, as data and our findings would suggest then, what matters most in this moment is how we deliberately empower and cultivate nurses’ inherent qualities to enhance their formal leadership skills. These conscious acts of mentorship are what will most certainly shape the next generation of transformational nurse leaders.