By Amy Humme MACN (ENL), Catelyn Richards MACN (ENL) and Jennifer Weller-Newton FACN.
The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) Melbourne Region recently hosted a webinar in celebration of International Nurses Day and 2020 being World Health Organization’s International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The theme for this event was nursing leadership, ‘Becoming and Being a Nurse Leader’. To capture the experiences of a range of nurse leaders from early career, middle and senior leadership the speakers were: Arun MACN Thomas ENL, 2019 Victorian Young Achiever of the Year, John Thompson ED Nurse Practitioner/lecturer and Kath Riddell MACN, Chief Nursing Officer at Melbourne’s St. Vincent’s Hospital.
The webinar was an opportunity to garner insights into the personal and professional experiences that shaped each of the speakers in establishing themselves as leaders. Taking a personal approach, Arun shared his story of personal turmoil as he resettled in Australia and transitioned into a career in nursing. It was an inspirational and humbling message. Arun’s personal philosophy is that a leader sets an example by creating a safe environment for owning up to mistakes and taking on new challenges. Real leaders are never about tearing people down. A leader needs to value genuine listening, and mentorship and lifelong learning are crucial in developing one’s leadership capacity.
John emphasised promoting the team as a whole through influence and unification towards common goals. He provided a visual representation of framework of a trust equation illustrating that trust equals credibility, reliability, and intimacy, above self-orientation. Offering a comparison of leadership styles and leadership traits set the tone of John’s presentation. Drawing upon the common leadership theories John posed a thought-provoking question, asking ‘what style of leadership do you need to display in situations?’ A question that left participants contemplating as Kath Riddell led into her perspectives on leadership.
Kath shared a very sincere and authentic journey into nursing and the pathway that she had travelled to reach her current senior leadership position. Finding mentors and role models is essential in leadership development. She also emphasised the value of lifelong learning in being a nurse leader and with this, not losing connection with the clinical environment. Furthermore, Kath highlighted the importance of skilled communication in nursing and nursing leadership. She challenged the audience to use ‘we’ language, and demonstrate patience, responsiveness and promote the team as a whole.
Reflecting on the take home messages of the evening there were five key points the speakers strongly emphasised:
- Anyone can be a leader in nursing
- Life-long learning is crucial for effective nursing leadership
- Not one leadership style works in every situation
- There is so much value in mentorship
- Be courageous and make the most of opportunities.
As Kath concluded her presentation with a pertinent quote from Confucius: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”. A message that we all need to hold onto in becoming and being nurse leaders.