What defines a Nurse Manager or Nurse Leader

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In my RN-BSN class we discussed the difference between being a nurse leader and nurse manager. It was unfortunate that theses two titles are not always describing the same role/person. Ideally any manager should be a leader, but it is often not the case.
Leadership should be a standard and a requirement in order to be a manger, but unfortunately middle-management is often too busy trying to appease the higher ups and quiet the staff, to be effective leaders. Managers should be seen as resources and advisors, but they are often seen as hindrances to change. The concerns with budgets, money, and weaving the tangled web of paperwork and meetings get in the way of being able to facilitate good teamwork and promoting excellence.
I often feel like management are forced to tread-water. They are constantly walking a tight rope and trying to balance their responsibilities, determine priorities, and often are forced to ignore underlying department problems or forget to acknowledge successes.
Unfortunately a leader often isn’t a manager. These individuals instigate change and promote progress and positive outcomes. These are the people who question mediocrity and the status quo. These are the people who see the flaws in the system, but rather than focus on the have-nots, they choose to focus on the could-haves. These people are innovators, movers and shakers, and change-makers.
Honestly, most companies probably don’t want to employ leaders as managers. Leaders cost money because change and improvement are expensive. Leaders want improvements that may require extra effort from those who live in the “things will never change” mentality. Leaders question things that are just done because “thats the way it’s always been done”. Leaders use research, evidence based practice, and charisma to make things happen.
That is what I want to be. A nurse leader. You can have your management. I don’t want to be defined by budgets and meetings. I want to make positive change in nursing and healthcare. I want to inspire others to be passionate about technology in healthcare.
And I want all of your help.
Who is with me? Who wants to embrace technology and innovation in healthcare and leave the nay-sayers to the wayside? Managers welcome and encouraged to come aboard in this effort.

We need strong and passionate individuals, and I KNOW we can do this.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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8 thoughts on “What defines a Nurse Manager or Nurse Leader”

  1. In my Nursing career of 40 years in many DON, facility owner, manager and team leader roles, I presumed that people who liked you did their jobs. 50% of the employees don’t like you because you are the Boss, the way you comb your hair, or because you are a male, they won’t like you no matter what you do. 30% of the employees like you and they are the ones doing their jobs. 20% of the employees haven’t made up their minds yet. Focus on them to increase communication, effective leadership and productivity.

    1. interesting perspective.

      You think the likability of the boss has a direct impact on the performance of employee?

      To be completely honest, my former boss was far from likable, but I was still a great employee. If someone needs to “like” their boss to do their job then they are not motivated by their own work ethic and personal standards. Granted, liking my boss and being liked back do make the job better overall.

  2. Amen. One of the best leaders I know is a staff nurse in my dept. She was a manger before and says “never again”. She has only been here since July but had inspired and spearheaded so many improvements and inspired those around her to perform better. She could not stand management, as it constrained her. That is so unfortunate. She had been a nurse 30 years, I’ve only been one for 5. However, that is my kind of role model, a true leader.

      1. I agree that leaders are often not managers and managers are often not leaders. There is a great deal of innovation and positive momentum from our informal leaders, there is frustration in management and generated by management, there are also exceptional nurses who are both good leaders and good managers.

        I have been an RN for nearly 27 years and have had many roles as a staff RN, an informal leader and in formal leadership roles. Despite some of the challenges of informal leadership / leading from the bedside–that role was in many ways easier than taking on management/administrative roles. I loved being the change agent, the respected peer who got things done.

        However, I recently moved into a new position as an ED director and now I am management. It was not an easy decision for I knew full well the challenges and personal cost. I also realized that if I truly wanted larger scale change, if I wanted leadership for our department, our organization and nursing instead of mere management I had to be willing to step forward and try to bring this change. As an informal leader is it ethical to stand back and complain about “management” without being willing to rally change at that level? And yes, I now must worry about budgets, manage QI metrics, attend to the crisis du jour, appease senior management and employees… but these are all just pieces of a complex puzzle. I am there because I want to improve patient care and the work environment. I want to empower nursing and interdisciplinary teams to innovate and excel.

        Will I continue to develop as a leader and a mentor? Will I become another tired manager mired in the details? Will all my colleagues recognize me as a leader or a manager…will I? I can only offer my best knowledge, efforts, compassion and willingness to grow. I can aspire to be one of the exceptional nurses who makes a difference. In the end it will be my colleagues and my patients who will know if I have succeeded.

        I would encourage you to make the biggest difference you can!

        1. I am so happy to hear comments likes this.

          You are exactly the type of nurse leader that needs to be in management.
          You are what nursing needs to progress.

          Thank you for being passionate about nursing and for choosing to be a leader.

          I think you will achieve what you aspire to be, but we all know it’s going to be a daily challenge to walk the tight rope.

          1. Thanks for the vote of confidence!
            And yes, today was a challange all 07:30am-11:10pm of it.
            Yet, it is all good.

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