Nurse's Watch: Conversations on contemporary nursing,
nursing education, leadership, spirituality and blogging.
~Start date February 2010~

Monday, October 10, 2011

Leadership ~ Sometimes means following...

Leadership week 2: Follower, critical thinker and achiever
Followership Assessment
The Grossman and Valiga (2009) follower test was very insightful. Prior to starting the test, I envisioned myself as a good follower. I always try and devote myself to my work environments and educational projects by following those in the lead. My goal is to be an excellent follower and support my leader because I value and appreciate my leaders efforts. It is not an easy job. As a follower, I realize that while my role is often invisible, it is practical and important.
The Grossman and Valiga (2009) test demonstrated that I have a pretty good idea of my strengths and weaknesses as a follower. My score was 4.06; this indicates that I am a democratic self-starter who occasionally enjoys a challenge to a moderately participative follower who is an independent worker that, while not needing close supervision, does appreciate a bit of feedback (Grossman & Valiga, 2009). This I can see. I love assessing a situation or environment and seeing what I can suggest or do to make it better. Sullivan (1998) notes that followers are adept at finding solutions, not just pointing out problems (Grossman & Valiga, 2009). My natural tendency is to optimistically help things run smoothly and make sure everyone else is also a happy camper. I love encouraging people. I find that it seems everyone from our secretaries to other nurses’ come to me to ask me for advice concerning their educational ventures. I enjoy encouraging people to take the leap of faith into furthering their career and education. 
 I have also learned a lot about leaders and followers by participating actively in the work environment and observing those around me. Leaders who are not emotionally secure may not be able to appreciate or utilize followers to the best of their ability. Followers enjoy leaders who provide for autonomy, resources, individuality, as well as leaders who value relationships and lead effectively (Germain & Cummings, 2010). Kerfoot (2011) reports that when nurses feel safe and empowered the brain engages more actively in the work at hand, while insecurity propagates withdrawal from this same work environment. I have witnessed nurse managers whose insecurity led them to passively thwart their follower’s best efforts to support their leadership; this prompts an atmosphere of confusion and hurt. This makes sense as Kerfoot (2011) notes that leaders must manage themselves and their environment to gain and maintain the trust of employees.
Morrison (2008) also reflects that emotional intelligence can help nurses handle job stress and notes that these traits can be acquired. Therefore, I hope to continue to observe and learn how to handle conflict and collaborate with nursing colleagues to increase teamwork and productivity (Morrison, 2008).
Sullivan (1998) notes the role differences between leaders and followers are often very fluid with followers often performing as leaders and vice versa (Grossman & Valiga, 2009). Grossman and Valiga (2009) also reflect that being a good follower is excellent preparation for becoming a good leader. I agree. Most of the leaders I have followed were in positions of legitimate authority (Grossman & Valiga, 2009). Observing these different leaders has given me amazing insight into the mechanics of management, more so than leadership. However, personal growth can occur during times of good and bad leadership. My goal as a future leader is to remember not only what I have read, studied, and learned but also what I have seen and experienced. It is my hope that combining history, theory and reality can aid me to become an effective leader in the not too distant future.
Critical Thinker
The longer I have been a nurse the more my critical thinking has developed; Lemire (2005) noted that this is often the case. Each area I have worked in has had its own inherent needs and potential patient emergencies. On my first job, in labor and delivery, I can remember playing out in my mind the emergency steps necessary for various scenarios. I wanted to be ready and prepared. Each job since then has called for different skill sets and emergency applications.
The first challenge in each new job, after I determined possible emergencies, was to understand the mechanisms behind the emergency. Remembering systemically what was happening helped me determine correct nursing actions and understand the mechanisms behind them. The interventions were easier to remember when the dynamics of the situation were understood. Morgan, Johnson, and Garrison (2005) note that reflective thinking is “essential to identifying, analyzing, and solving complex problems” (p.111). After understanding the actual systemic mechanics of the emergency, the interventions were easier to remember, as were the expected nursing outcomes. Though I could not know it at the time, this process of reflection is an ongoing skill for all nurses (Morgan, Johnson, & Garrison, 2005). My graduate education has helped me name the processes I used as a young nurse to understand and organize my environment and patient care. This education will now enable me to equip others to do the same.
Further, my education challenges me as an instructor to try and find ways to increase critical thinking in the class. Lemire (2005) reports that is often difficult to execute due to the vast amounts of information, which needs to be taught. However, each step in the critical thinking process can help students remember and respond. Consequently, the skills I have developed as a nurse will now assist me as a nurse educator.
My new patient, in essence, is a student eager to pass the class and boards. Possible emergencies are misunderstanding of classroom material, which can delay learning. My goal is to assess ways to help the student assimilate the necessary knowledge, understand it, plan nursing interventions and measure outcomes. Helping them understand this process can assist them to prepare for each new unit they may work on and equip them with the skills to learn and prepare long after I have exited their lives. Vance (2005) concludes, “the teacher-mentor inspires, guides, models, encourages, facilitates, and nurtures students in their learning journey” (p.87). My education has equipped me to be a life-long learner and to influence others to recognize the value and merit in this choice as well.
 Dienemann (2005) notes “evidence of leadership is achievements” (p.37). My accomplishments as a nurse achiever stem from my personal desire to be an active part of each department I work in and my personal tendency to dissect the environment for possible improvements. When I started to teach in the clinical environment, I noticed that from week to week much of the basic clinic specific information we discussed did not change. I felt that if I could provide this basic information to the students’ prior to the clinical class, more time could be spent on discussing the experiential portion of the class. Consequently, I developed a clinical wiki, which provided the students with background information about the clinic. This allowed my co-teacher and I to concentrate on the more immediate and practical nursing interventions that the students were responsible for.
At the Center of Pediatric Medicine (CPM) my goal has been to participate in the CPM community and offer what support I can. The wiki has been useful for the clinic, as well as, the students in that it offers great basic information to assist with student and employee orientation. 
            Teaching is near and dear to my heart, consequently, I also joined the literacy committee at CPM. This committee serves as a liaison with the Reach Out and Read Initiative. Reach Out and Read is a grant that provides children ages 6 months to six years with a new book each time they attend a well child check up. While serving on this committee, I suggested that we find a way to give out books to older children, which do not qualify for this initiative. Therefore, we have had several book drives to collect books for these children. Being an achiever is a goal of mine wherever I go.
Dienemann (2005) reflects that nursing interventions and outcomes currently are somewhat invisible to the public; this makes outcomes for nursing care hard to measure and quantify. The more nurses find ways to achieve recognition and visibility in their perspective nursing arenas the easier it will be to see the value of the profession in measurable terms.
I feel that I have a great deal to offer the nursing profession. My graduate education has enabled me to see weaknesses in the media portrayals of nurses and opened my eyes to numerous ways the image of nursing could be improved upon and projected into the community at large. Ultimately, nurses who are passionate about what they do, need to ensure that the work of nurses is no longer invisible. We must labor to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation of nursing so that the profession is portrayed as the valuable asset it is to humanity.


Dienemann, J. A. (2005). Chapter 4: Leader as achiever. In H. R. Feldman & M. J. Greenberg (Eds.), Educating nurses for leadership (pp. 37-50). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Germain, P. B., & Cummings, G. G. (2010). The influence of nursing leadership on nurse performance: a systematic literature review. Journal of Nursing Management, 18, 425-439.
Grossman, S. C., & Valiga, T. M. (2009). The new leadership challenge: Creating the future of nursing (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.
Kerfoot, K. M. (2011). The art and neurobiology of connection: The leader's challenge. Nursing Economic$, 29(2), 94-95.
Lemire, J.  A. (2005). Chapter 5: Leader as critical thinker. In H. R. Feldman & M. J. Greenberg (Eds.), Educating nurses for leadership (pp. 51-66). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Morgan, D. A., Johnson, J. G., & Garrison, D. R. (2005). Chapter 9: Reflective journaling: Bridging the theory-practice gap. In H. R. Feldman & M. J. Greenberg (Eds.), Educating nurses for leadership (pp. 110-118). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Morrison, J. (2008). The relationship between emotional intelligence competencies and preferred conflict-handling styles. Journal of Nursing Management, 16, 974-983. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2834.2008.00876.x
Vance, C. (2005). Chapter 7: Leader as mentor. In H. R. Feldman & M. J. Greenberg (Eds.), Educating nurses for leadership (pp. 80-97). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad your co-teacher was cooperative. It's healthy to have an environment like that. But whatever your profession is - teacher or not - you need to forge it with will and passion.

    Alexander Tiedeman