Are You Ready to Climb the Career Ladder: Experienced Leaders
By: Suzan R. Miller-Hoover DNP, RN, CCNS, CCRN-K
You have ascended the clinical ladder to the supervisory level, what now? Do you have what it takes to become a manager or director? In making this decision, you must consider your strengths and challenges in your present role.
The experienced leader role is influential in creating a professional environment while fostering a culture where team members contribute to optimal patient outcomes and grow professionally.
The experienced leader is expected to make vital decisions in stressful situations, discipline staff, develop budgets and staffing plans, collaborate with the multidisciplinary team, work in partnership with the executive team to support facility goals, implement and support regulatory recommendations; while having the responsibility of the day to day operation of the unit.
As a mid-level leader, you have learned to manage many of the responsibilities listed above, but as an experienced leader you now must accept the responsibility of the outcomes, good or bad, of these decisions.
Let’s do a trait inventory:
• Advocate: Do you work to make the unit a safe and reasonable practice area, or do you make excuses for poor or unsafe work conditions?
• Mentoring: Do you micromanage or empower your staff?
• Emotional Intelligence: Do you immediately take sides in a disagreement or do you gather the facts and decide without emotion?
• Professionalism: Do you use bullying to get your way or do you treat the staff with respect? Are you using honesty and integrity in all your dealings with staff?
• Supportive: Do you set the bar too high or do you coach and challenge the staff to success?
It is important that you objectively assess your abilities. Experienced leaders can make or break a unit. A good experienced leader will have excellent communication and leadership skills; be a change agent and empower their staff to ensure a safe environment for staff and patients.
How do you hone the skills you need to be an effective leader? Participate in succession planning and a career development programs offered by your employer. These programs enable you to learn and use the skills that are used in the role you are pursuing. With intentional guidance, coaching and mentoring you will begin to develop a deeper respect for the challenges of the experienced leader (Dyess & Sherman, 2016).
If your facility does not offer these types of programs, many advanced learning opportunities are available on-line and at universities. Some experienced leadership roles require a BSN or master’s degree. Know what educational level is required/preferred for the role you aspire to.
Excellent leaders provide a safe and empowering environment for all they touch. Learn all you can about the role, develop your skills in communication and leadership, practice advocacy and professionalism. Be the best leader you can be with or without the promotion.
Unsure on how to become a nurse leader? Learn how to become a manager no one wants to leave.
Dyess, D., Sherman, R., Pratt, B., & Chiang-Hanisko, L. (2016). Growing Nurse Leaders: Their Perspectives on Nursing Leadership and Today’s Practice Environment. Retrieved from:
Onlinenursing.duq.edu. (2017). The Roles of a Nursing Manger: Leading the nursing profession into the future. Retrieved from:
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