Albert Einstein once said, "The leader is one who, out of the clutter, brings simplicity... out of discord, harmony... and out of difficulty, opportunity." And likewise, when engaging in discussion, a leader brings attentiveness.
This is never more true than for nurse leaders serving on boards of directors. When you or someone else on a board raises a motion for consideration, it is important for that person to feel acknowledged, heard and understood. On the other hand, when other board members don't try to grasp the concern in full nor take into account the entire discussion that follows, this can lead to unproductive, inefficient use of a board.
One factor that will help ensure a comprehensive and compelling motion for consideration is to display attentiveness. By properly considering the motions raised by others, your own motions will, in turn, be better received as well.
How can you engage in attentiveness?
These five methods can help nurses serving on boards show attentiveness:
- Paraphrase to show understanding
- Use nonverbal cues to demonstrate understanding such as nodding, eye contact and leaning forward
- Offer brief verbal affirmations such as "I see," "I know," "Sure," "Thank you" or "I understand"
- Ask open-ended questions
- Ask specific questions to seek clarification
These methods don't just apply to nurses serving on boards; they get to the heart of nursing core competencies. According to Kimberly S Glassman, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Senior Vice President, Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer, NYU Langone Health, "being attentive comes naturally to nurses - we listen closely to our patients and tune into the meaning behind their words. This ability to listen deeply and grasp the context of the situation at hand is a compelling reason for nurses to serve on boards."
- Nurses on Boards Coalition (2017). Board Core Competencies http://www.nursesonboardscoalition.org
M. Lindell Joseph, PhD, RN, AONE Foundation, Board of Directors, and The University of Iowa College of Nursing; Laurie Benson, BSN, Executive Director, Nurses on Board Coalition