The Nonclinical Skill Nurse Leaders Need
HealthApril 10, 2018

The nonclinical skill nurse leaders need

It takes more than mastery of clinical care to be a nurse leader.

No nurse transcends the ranks to nurse leadership without solid clinical skills. However, it takes more than mastery of clinical care to be a nurse leader.

Cost-benefit analysis, budgeting, an understanding of health care economics, keeping an inventory of supplies and equipment, staffing — these and many more responsibilities fall squarely on the shoulders of nurse leaders. Still, none of them measure up in importance to another key attribute for nurse leadership, according to the author of the Nurse Manager’s Survival Guide.

In a recent HealthLeaders Media article, Tina M. Marrelli, MSN, MA, RN, FAAN, emphasized the powerhouse capabilities of relationship-based leadership. Leaders with good relationships skills, she said, can foster connection and team-building, making for a stronger, more resilient staff.

Relational leaders

“I think [nurses] have to have good communication skills. I'd say that's probably right up there with clinical judgment,” Marrelli, who is president of the consulting group Marrelli & Associates, Inc., and chief clinical officer at Innovative Caregiving Solutions and, told HealthLeaders Media.

What does a good relational leader look like? According to the article, relationship-based leaders will:

  • Prioritize and model connection with staff, through shared breaks, meals, and conversations. “It's an opportunity to really know each other as people because once you get there, you all communicate, everybody's willing to cover for each other, and everybody thinks they're an equally competent nurse,” Marelli told the publication.
  • Check in with staff and pay attention to shifts in mood and mindset. “When a manager knows enough to say to somebody, ‘Are you OK?’ usually, people will say what's going on,” Marelli told HealthLeaders Media. “It really is all about relationships. Do we schedule time with team members when we know there's a problem going on or a concern? You know everybody's busy, but think about how ‘more busy’ you'd be if you have to go to HR to hire a new person.”
  • Step in to help when staff is struggling. For example, if a nurse lacks experience in caring for a specific type of patient, a relationship-based nurse will provide the informal or formal support necessary to bridge that experience gap. “During an in-service, you can do some education and make it fun and engaging,” Marrelli advised, “so people walk out of there with a skill set that they feel better about.”

The payoff

Finally, relationship-smart leaders take employee feedback seriously, even when a staff member does decide to depart from an organization. By listening carefully to complaints, nurse leaders may be able to use the information constructively to better the environment for current and future staff.

Relationship-based nursing leadership may not come naturally for everyone. But a more relational approach offers worthwhile payback: staff that are generally happier, less stressed, and more willing to pitch in and serve the team when necessary.

Supporting nurse leaders

Are you headed to Indianapolis for the annual American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) 2018 Annual Meeting this week?  When you’re in the exhibit hall, stop by booth #802 and learn how Lippincott Solutions’ evidence-based software for institutions is helping nurse executives balance both clinical and business needs.

Enjoy a fresh-baked cookie and enter to win a FREE Michael Kors handbag, while you check out a live demo of our leading decision-support and competency validation software.

Don’t miss our AONE Vendor Presentation “Zoom In On Patient Care” on Friday, April 13th in the Exhibitor Expo Pavilion.  We’ll be spotlighting the ease of interoperability between Lippincott Solutions and Ovid Discovery, and all presentation attendees will be entered into a drawing for three American Express gift cards ($200, $100, $50).  Hope to see you there!

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