Guest Author - Bethany Derricott, BSN, RN
Being a nurse is a tough job, but being a nurse manager is really a challenge! With the constantly changing health care system and the nationwide financial crisis, nurse managers across the country take the reins each day, as leaders, advocates and change agents for patients, nurses and health care organizations. They must deal with overwhelming staffing, financial and political issues, while at the same time attempt to keep patients and staff members relatively content, if not happy. This is a big job for even the savviest of nurse managers. With all of these issues to deal with, how do nurse manages even have time to stop and reflective upon whether or not they are “great” nurse managers?
Characteristics of “Great” Nurse Managers
The internet is over rot with articles about management and leadership styles and there are numerous lists summarizing the characteristics of great managers. And, like so many other things, everyone has an opinion about this. So, to help you wade through numerous articles and well meaning opinions, below is a list of some of the most commonly spouted characteristics of great nurse managers. This list can be used for self-evaluation or to assess the “greatness” of nurse managers.
• Welcomes suggestions and is flexible.
• Exhibits approachability.
• Gives clear expectations.
• Enforces policies and procedures consistently.
• Deals with the problems of patients and staff members swiftly.
• Makes the tough decisions that others are afraid to make.
• Delegates easily and effectively
• Balances power between the head and the heart.
• Sets positive examples for others to follow.
• Looks at the glass half full versus half empty.
• Listens to and considers the concerns of staff members.
• Practices shared decision making.
• Advocates for the implementation of evidence-based practice.
• Embraces change and helps staff members to do the same.
• Gets “dirty” by working side-by-side with staff members when necessary.
• Treats everyone equally and respectfully.
• Champions for nurses and nursing practice.
• Understands that the bottom line is safe and effective patient care, and not money.
Wow! This list sounds more like the required characteristics of a president, or even worse, a saint! However, these are the characteristics that nurses often feel “great” nurse managers should have. Unfortunately, nurse managers are not saints and most do not aspire to be! In spite of this, many do hope to lead with sincerity, guide with gentleness and transform with courage. And these, above all us, are the characteristics of “great” nurse managers.