As most of you know, I am in school to obtain my BSN. I plan to continue on for my MSN in nursing education after I finish. Currently in my leadership class we are having various discussions about what makes a great leader! I am learning a lot about myself as a nurse, as a professional, and as a leader. I am also learning about those whom I have been lead by over the past 14 years as a nurse. I have been thinking a lot about the qualities of an excellent leader. Tom Peters once said, “leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”. No matter what role we are in professionally we should be creating more leaders. We all have someone looking for our guidance, assistance, and encouragement. I believe this makes us all a leader to some extent. I was challenged with describing the qualities of an excellent leader. The following acrostic are my thoughts on what true leadership consists of:
L-LEARNS-A good leader learns from their staff. They view learning as a continuous, ongoing, infinite process.
E-EQUAL-A good leader realizes that everyone is of equal importance. While there may be levels within the organization, each level is needed, valued, and appreciated. All team members are of equal importance.
A-APPRECIATIVE-A good leader appreciates their team members. They express their appreciation in a variety of ways; publicly, privately, in writing or verbally. Someone once said “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected”.
D-DELEGATES-A good leader does not try to control every situation. Instead, they delegate to their team. They trust that their team is capable and competent.
E-EMPATHY-Without empathy a leader is empty. As Theodore Roosevelt said “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”. If a team does not have a caring, empathetic leader then they do not listen when that leader is guiding. During my teaching years I spent so much time building relationships. I knew if I did not have an individual relationship with each one of my students they would not be open to the knowledge or advice that I had to share. To be a good leader you have to have empathy. No one follows an empty leader.
R-RECEPTIVE-A good leader is receptive of constructive criticism, ideas, and change. Being receptive is often difficult for leaders because they tend to be the decision makers, the rule setters, and the “closed book” type of people. Being receptive is not a comfortable place at times but it is very necessary. It means being vulnerable and open to others.
S-SUPPORTIVE-A good leader supports their team. Even if the leader has doubts they will support the ideas of the team. Just as a house cannot be built without support beams, a team cannot be built without a supportive leader. Support looks different to each individual. The leader has the challenging role of learning how to support each team member individually. Not an easy task!
H-HUMBLE-A good leader stays humble and never forgets where they started from. Humility is an expression of gratitude and understanding. Leaders that think they are better than their team are full of pride. Pride leads to selfishness and selfishness leads to loneliness. No one willingly follows arrogance. There is no room for egos in leadership. Humble and kind will win every time!
I-INFLUENTIAL-A good leader influences others to become leaders, to grow, to make a difference. A leader is only as good as those around him/her. If that leader never influences their team in a positive way the team will not grow or develop. I honestly believe in making a difference and influencing others positively each and every day. That is a leaders purpose.
P-PURPOSE-A good leader leads with purpose. They see the vision of the team and they go after it. They do not aimlessly wander about waiting for others to make change. They are purpose driven. Each and everything a leader does has a purpose behind it and that purpose should always point to the betterment of the team.
These qualities can be challenging, overwhelming, and exhausting! Think of those people in your life that have had the most influence…..what qualities did they possess? Are you in a leadership position? What qualities do you think are essential to excellent leadership? Remember, everyone is leading someone in one way or another. Are you a positive influence to your team? If not, you could be part of the problem. Self reflect and focus on what qualities you can improve upon. Making a difference by influencing others should not be taken lightly. Besides, it is possible that you became who you are because of someone’s great leadership. Pass it on.