What Does Being A Leader of Caring Look Like? – Part 2

Last week I talked about the question … How can we reach nurses?       … a common query  among nurse leaders, right?

 And a better question surfaced:    How can nurses reach us?

            … Does this question trigger a different response in you?   It is at the heart of our personal authenticitya requirement of the highest level of human caring interactions and where our real connections with self and others happen.  This is biogenic caring as defined last week.

Today – let’s compare authentic connection to the leadership books and articles we’re used to studying. 

Consider the leadership knowledge and instruction you have gathered on the following topics ….  – empowerment, engagement, motivation, autonomy, power, support, satisfaction, etc

Note – These subjects are intended to help us Reach Nurses, which is good.

But here is the rub … to be perfectly honest, I did try to say these suggested words, questions, statements to nurses to reach out to them.  But my attempts rarely had the effect of really connecting.

Let me give you an example from one of the best leadership coaches/writers for nurses out there, Barbara Mackoff.  She writes and teaches leadership for AONE (Am. Organization Nurse Executives).   She wrote an article on The Practice of Motivation in 2014, which is excellent.  My copy of this article looks like a rainbow with multiple colors of ink and highlighting all over the pages with notes to self.  Here are some of those tips to use when rounding or in meetings with nurses:

  • Stay focused on your purpose; share your ‘whys’ with nurses.   (I liked doing this)
  • Avoid faux feedback. Use details specific to the nurse or event.   (I always struggled with this; I wanted it to be meaningful and not sound manipulative)
  • Ask questions, instead of telling.   (.. got better when rounding…)
  • Let others talk more than me.   (I was never good at this in meetings! Ugh.. But got good at this when rounding and in nursing forums)
  • Focus on what is working.  (…. I was good at this, I think ..)

 The point here … I always struggled in fulfilling these suggestions partially because they were always stacked on top of all the other objectives, and partially because they didn’t get me connected.

And then, one day, I stopped my madness of trying to use the leadership tips when being with nurses and started to focus on what was really important to me… Nursing and Caring. I started to bring my deeper thoughts, feelings and curiosity into my conversations with nurses.

That’s when I really started to connect… with myself, my purpose and nurses. 

To be fair about leadership literature, I’m sure that the expectation of authenticity is a given in their instruction.

But when it comes to relating to nurses about their work …

Only by getting into the details of how a patient acted and felt, along with how the nurse acted and felt can we achieve authentic connection with nurses in their eyes.

That’s when I heard a nurse talk of how conflicted she felt about a patient because of how the patient let her child be treated, and how she struggled with her care approach.  And the caring moment a nurse experienced when teaching a patent about his renal failure.

That’s when my intentions and language started to merge for me.   That’s when talking about nurse caring flipped everything and made my work more real.    

Next week, I’ll talk about how sharing authentic caring moments evolves into our personal caring language and starts to trigger expanding caring consciousness in all of us.

PS.  Here is another leadership tip from Mackoff’s article that we can all do more of:

Play – staff dinners and parties; produce newsletters that are 75% photos of  nurses vacations and brag books of kids and pets.     ( I was not good at this …. I fear my newsletters were like business reports with a bit of artwork. Ugh!)

Mackoff B. (2014) AONE Leadership Laboratory Insights: The Practice of Motivation. Nurse Leader. August. www.nurseleader.com


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