I recently read an article about becoming an authentic nurse leader. My first thought was, “What the heck is an authentic leader?” Well, personal characteristics may have something to do with this.
According to the article, "The Secret to Becoming an 'Authentic' Nurse Leader," an authentic nurse leader may obtain or home in on certain personal attributes that in turn can help lead to better performance and satisfaction among staff members.
The author of this article analyzed three chief nurse executives and chose participants who had many years of nursing experience, held advanced nursing degrees, and also had good reputations as nursing leaders, exhibiting the following characteristics:
Self-awareness. They are aware of their own thoughts and behaviors and how they affect others. One must be self-reflective or introspective to become self-aware. Self-aware individuals are able to understand their own sense of purpose, beliefs, and core values, which is reflected in their own distinct authentic leadership style. I have discovered that sometimes this self awareness can be painful. Recognizing one’s own shortcomings is not always pleasant but is necessary for change.
Self-regulation. This is a willingness to share and discuss vulnerabilities and limitations and admit one's own mistakes. Who wants to do this? Do I want others to know my weaknesses? This person is guided by internal moral standards and values instead of organizational or societal pressures. A self-regulated person has the courage to make difficult decisions and stand up for the right thing. This can mean going against the grain and being met with disapproval. Keeping focus on patient-centered care and what is right for the patient can help nursing leaders with decisions regarding staffing, budgets, etc.
Commitment to developing authentic followers. This person would develop long-lasting personal relationships with close followers and associates. This is a great way to mentor others to become authentic nurse leaders. Also, leaders should not lose focus on patient-centered care when making decisions related to containing costs and improving efficiencies.
In the end, the author concluded that these respected nurse leaders demonstrated two important qualities: maintaining a strong set of values and having the courage to "do the right thing."
From your own experiences, do you feel that strong, successful nurse leaders typically make patient-centered care their main priority? What other qualities could you add to those mentioned above in order for a nurse leader to be successful?