Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
Have you lost sight of what truly matters? We often become so fully engulfed in orchestrating day-to-day operations that we're prone to overlooking the meaning and value of our work. Between attending meetings, reviewing budgets, purchasing supplies, and achieving strategic imperatives, we can easily forget that our primary purpose is to create the most positive work environment for our team to deliver high-quality care to our patients.
Are we spending more time writing policies and procedures to be in compliance with regulatory requirements than monitoring and evaluating the care delivered to patients? Are we expending too much energy reviewing the literature for the best fall prevention strategies while our fall rates go up? Are we more focused on our patient satisfaction score reports than listening to what our patients are trying to tell us?
Our busy lives can easily distract us from remembering what's really important. We're often so barraged with handling daily crises that we become consumed with just trying to make it through the day, and forget about meeting the most basic needs of our staff and patients. How can we as leaders remember and cultivate our roots and remain true to our core values despite the daily pressures of our chaotic work environment?
Although it might sound altruistic to those of us attempting to survive each day, you must take a moment and reflect on your own philosophy and core values of practice. If you haven't spent the time to think about your primary mission and vision for the future, you're unintentionally doing a disservice to yourself and those you lead. A strong philosophy will guide your decisions, actions, and evaluation of whether you're achieving your goals.
A philosophy is articulating what you believe is important in your practice. It's a guide to help navigate difficult times and a map to foster achievement. Building a philosophy is easier than you might think. It's simply making a list of beliefs and linking them together to articulate the manner in which you choose to lead. There's no magic way to define a philosophy; it's a matter of critically examining what's important to you in your practice.
If we as leaders haven't made a commitment to clearly define and articulate our philosophy, we're metaphorically attempting to grow a garden of flowers without seeds, soil, sunlight, and water. Our basic elements of success must be present and fully utilized and nurtured to grow our dream. After we can clearly visualize what we want to achieve, we're more than half way to making those goals a reality.
Your core components of leadership must ensure that you're parking your ego while simultaneously building an environment that produces confidence and success within your team. Honesty, integrity, and a strong commitment to the team must be at the core. These values are the fundamental building blocks of developing trust amongst those we lead and must be evident in each and every interaction. When we falter—which we all will do—it's easily remedied as long as we consistently remain true to our most basic values.
Whether you're a new leader or one who has been leading for most of your career, it's never too early or late to define and sharpen your commitment to your core standards. Without ensuring that the basics are covered, it's virtually impossible to build momentum for the future.