Some say you must earn accolades for your accomplishments, be highly educated or hold a formal title. I disagree with all the above being a requirement to call yourself a leader. I say it matters more what you do.
Leaders lead. They don’t wait for someone else to acknowledge their value or tell them how to get things done. They identify a need, plan and work toward a goal. Leaders are visionaries. They rarely stay the course, instead opting to expand the norm and push boundaries.
Leaders question that status quo. Leaders believe there is better to be had. Leaders are doers.
Leaders have followers. Someone somewhere believes in them enough to show support for their vision. Maybe they work closely with them to solve problems. Maybe they simply stay out of the way or work to remove obstacles in the way of progress. Leaders empower and engage. Leaders inspire.
In nursing, you find leaders at all levels of the profession. The new graduate who believes in the impossible or brings ideas and experience from a previous career path. The experienced nurse who still loves what they do and chooses to mentor their colleagues to be their best. The administrator who fights for funding and staffing so their employees have the best opportunity to provide the best care. Nurses in government who support laws that create opportunity for diversity in the profession and inclusive practices putting nurses at the table where decisions are being made about policy. Faculty who work every day to prepare students for the known and unknown challenges they will face. Retirees who never really left the profession but find ways to engage in their communities to share their skills to raise up their friends and neighbors. Nursing leaders are everywhere.
The question I put to all nurses reading this article is this: What kind of leader will you be? Will you join with other leaders and work to leave a legacy of professionalism and empowerment? Diversity and inclusion? Intelligent cutting-edge thinking? Every nurse I’ve ever met has the power to be a leader. Whether you’re shy or outgoing, new or experienced, clinical or administrative, I challenge each of you to never stop evolving. Find your path to lead and jump into the challenge with all you are. Don’t wait. The profession needs you now.
To access opportunities to become an effective nursing leader in Washington state, contact WSNA today and tell us what’s important to you. WSNA has a place for you. Will you join us?
Visit wsna.org/membership or call 1 – 800-231‑8482 and ask to speak to an organizer.