Share this article on:

Leadership lessons learned from politics

Section Editor(s): Hader, Richard PhD, NE-BC, RN, CHE, CPHQ, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000424021.68045.c9
Department: Editorial

Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.

Without an equal amount of strength and compromise, you'll forever be deadlocked.



The presidential election results yielded very few mandates except the fact that individuals and groups from varying ideologies must continue to find common ground. Leaders who have the ability and foresight to garner consensus and passionately negotiate are much more likely to succeed. Without an equal amount of strength and compromise, you'll forever be deadlocked. Nurse leaders need to efficiently and effectively develop skills that will facilitate cooperation between individuals among a variety of groups. Balance and creative stability will prove positive.

Leaders often believe that they must win every battle to prove to both themselves and their constituency that they're strong. But leaders who attempt to win in every situation without compromise will soon find that their teams don't want to follow and there's little-to-nothing accomplished, resulting in a deficiency of nursing care.

Each day you're called upon to make decisions, and each decision you make is a test of your performance. Your team members will grade your decision each and every time. They'll remember your poor decisions much longer than your correct ones and give you credit far less than you deserve. This is part of the game of leadership. We're constantly judged for what we say or write, along with our body language, expression, tone, and context. You'll never achieve straight A's all the time, nor should you expect to.

I've often thought that if my job were by election rather than by appointment, would I work differently? My first thought is “no” because my convictions and passions wouldn't change, so why would I change the work that I do? But after significant thought, I admit that my approach would change significantly. The variables of meeting the organization's needs versus the needs of individuals who would vote on your performance call for a totally different leadership approach. I wouldn't suggest that nurse leaders be placed in a position such as running for office, but leadership performance should be measured through employee surveys.

Every leader will falter at multiple times throughout his or her career. This means that it's necessary for each leader to build a political line of credit. Much like a financial line of credit, political equity may be drawn on in times of necessity. As a simple example, if a staff member needs a special day off and you help make that happen, you're gaining political equity. I assure you that, at some point, you'll look to cash in that equity when you're in dire need of someone to fill in the schedule. If you're always making requests but never reciprocate, it will only be a matter of time until your staff members no longer engage in meeting your requests.

Leadership is about compromise and negotiation. By spending an equal amount of time meeting the overall needs of both your team members and the entire organization, you'll achieve success.




© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.