In the world of medicine, it is the collective effort of a variety of health practitioners that contributes to caring for the ailing and the injured. Nurses probably form the largest professional group within this group of health care practitioners. A couple of decades ago, the role of chief nurse was limited to help physicians observe, record, diagnose, and administer care and medication. This was in addition to routine supervisory tasks. Health care organizations are now more knowledge intensive, and this clinical executive is challenged to take up more specialized roles – as a leader and the manager of the interdisciplinary teams within the healthcare environment.
Managers as leaders:
Often for chief nurses their role as a manager is defined by the organization – to command a team of subordinates, and ensure compliance. To merge the operational role of a manager with the role of a leader, a chief nurse that focuses on inspiring the team has well disposed followers, who are committed to work towards the set goals. Although in the area of nursing and health care, communication is often clear, roles are defined, and there is less ambiguity with regard to tasks, the chief nurse who communicates effectively, has better scope to function as a leader, and ensure positive end results. This is especially true in times of organizational reconstruction or change. Communication needs to be explicit with the team – on the unknown and the inexplicable, what these changes will bring, and how to anticipate the same, in terms of having alternatives; setting priorities and making choices that are ones own. Communication on change can help reduce anxieties, when employees understand the larger perspective, the bigger picture that changes are often to do with helping to optimize resources rather than laying-off or depreciating employee value. Another way that managers become leaders is by possessing definite knowledge and skills that subordinates quickly recognize as credible. A chief nurse is a knowledge worker with a formal education base along with sophisticated manual skills. If this knowledge is authentic, then the leader’s formal authority is appreciated, and followers are sustained.
Motivate and compensate employees:
Chief nurses play a vital role in the management of human resources. Their skills are called for in selecting and hiring persons with specialized knowledge, experience, and an aptitude to deliver results collectively within given time parameters. Time or production based assessments are now replaced by results based appraisals. Appraisals help members in recognizing what is personally vital to them, and consequently helpful to achieve the team’s goal.
Opportunity for High Performance:
The chief nurse together with the team sets goals, develop plans, report and review collectively for enhancing future execution. Good ideas generated from the team are appreciated, and lead to collective decision-making. Teams feel motivated to perform when the results are important to their leader. Performance levels can be enhanced when the team is appropriately compensated, and appreciated for their efforts, when offered decent working environments, experience fairness, and when given further learning, training and self development opportunities.
Incentive to Achieve High Performance:
The role of the chief nurse is to also develop measures that are effective to measure performance. A feedback on performance helps the team to streamline future roles and responsibilities, and being aware that their contributions have had results helps them have a sense of achievement.
Managers and leaders are separated by a thin line of divide in how they perceive their functional role, responsibilities, and style in working with people. Empowering people helps breakdown hierarchical structures, provides new logic in dealing with people dynamics, and their inherent potential. (Sorell-Jones, J., 1999).
Sorell-Jones, J. “The role of the chief nurse executive in the knowledge-intense organization of the future “.Nursing Administration Quarterly. 23.3. (1999): 17-26.
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