Nurse Leader Interview
The advent of team-based healthcare delivery has radically transformed the healthcare industry. The industry has embraced a more patient-centered system based on the growing body of literature pointing to its effectiveness in achieving positive patient outcomes. The new system comes with the need for teamwork in service delivery. According to Babiker et al. (2014), in place of an all-knowing physician, today’s healthcare system is characterized by complex network of specialists working as a team or group and whose functions are complemented by technologies. Therefore, effective management and leadership is critical in determining the success of these healthcare teams including the overall quality of service delivery. Studies have shown that lack off effective leadership and management can hamper the service delivery within healthcare settings. Toxic leadership leads to high employee turnover, low motivation and lack of employee empowerment (Bakkal & Aydintuğ, 2016).
On the other hand, when effectively implemented these structural processes and empowerment initiatives and cultures have the potential of spurring organizational growth, fostering workplace relationships, promoting employee adaptability, and facilitating decision making. According to McLeod (2018), the sense of security and belonging rank very high on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. These needs determine employee loyalty, productivity, job satisfaction and if not met, can lead to workplace conflicts. The primary objective of this paper is to highlight how effective management and leadership styles can impact healthcare service delivery with a special focus on nursing practice.
To gain insight on the role of leadership in shaping healthcare delivery, a nursing leader was interviewed. The interviewee is an Indian-American female nurse who has worked in the industry for 35 years. Her path to becoming an expert nurse began as a novice working as pediatric nurse at a local municipality hospital in New Delhi, India; her home country. After five years, she migrated to the United States with her family and took up a nursing position at a pediatric ward in a healthcare facility. Through continuous professional development, she had served in various units at the facility including the emergency department, psychiatric unit, and critical care unit. She also holds an undergraduate degree in nursing informatics. She is currently serving as the head of the facility’s nursing information technology program while also doubling as the pediatric department nurse supervisor. She notes that her ability to take on different and sometimes challenging roles is founded on the belief that “effective leadership and management, like nursing, is founded on compassion”.
After sending the interviewee the interview questions and objectives, she agreed for a 45-minute interview on Wednesday, 12th June 2019 during the lunch hour break. The duration and choice of time was due to her busy schedule as a practicing nurse and leader. Her name was shelved to protect her identity. She will be referred to as ‘Interviewee’ during the interview.
Interviewer: It is a great pleasure to finally meet you. I am glad you reserved some minutes from your busy schedule to answer a few questions regarding your leadership styles as a nurse leader.
Interviewee: No problem, the pleasure is all mine. It is all part of being a leader; I have to create space and time to converse with other in spite of the seemingly busy schedule.
Interviewer: Thank you. Due to time constraint, kindly allow me to jump straight to the questions. In regard to your statement, how do you create time and space and how do you see it as part of responsibilities as a leader?
Interviewee: It’s okay. I believe time management is an important leadership quality and skill that any leader should learn and embrace. To manage my time and create space for the seemingly endless list of tasks to accomplish, I use a planner with reminders. Thanks to technology, it is a lot easier that it was decades ago when I started as a nurse.
Interviewer: Do you have cases of conflicts of scheduling especially emergencies? How do you handle such scenarios?
Interviewee: In case of scheduling conflicts, which is very common, I ensure that I communicate effectively with my team. Communication is key in everything I do. Plus my team members understand their tasks very well. They also understand that I hold other positions within the facility. Therefore, they readily step up to fill the gap. I delegate in such scenarios and believe it has created harmony within the team and nurtured future leaders within our team.
Interviewer: That sounds like a smoothly running team; no conflicts at all.
Interviewee: Far from it. See, we have a collaborative team with members from different cultures. They also have different experiences and academic backgrounds. Therefore, tensions and conflicts are common. However, these differences are our strengths too. And we value diversity and communication. They are our valued assets as a team. We have developed conflict resolution and communication channels. Our shared goals are well communicated and we engage in team building exercises.
Interviewer: How you describe your leadership style?
Interviewee: I would say hybrid because I believe each scenario require one or more leadership style. Therefore, depending on the situation I can be democratic, mentor, hands-on, leader-manager, and so and so forth. I mixed them but I lean more towards democratic leadership.
Interviewer: Interesting. Why democratic?
Interviewee: I believe that effective leadership and management, like nursing, is founded on compassion. It is impossible to be compassionate towards your team members as a leader if you don’t give them the space to self-determine and express themselves. It is the highest point of compassion.
Interviewer: That sounds like a lot of versatility and flexibility. Does such an approach pose any challenges?
Interviewee: As a leader, I have to be versatile, flexible and adaptable. That is one lesson I have learned over the years. No situation is the same and handling each situation using one approach is self-defeating. One of the challenges I face as a leader, as I have mentioned before, is conflicts and tensions. Secondly, adapting team members and the organization as a whole to new changes considering the fast changing technology landscape. Additionally, as a perfectionist sometimes I find it challenging to delegate. Finding the right balance between assertive and democratic as a leader can also be challenging.
Interviewer: Going by your successes, I believe you overcome these challenges.
Interviewee: Well, overcoming these challenges is a continuous process. What we focus on as team and organization is empowerment. We empower employees through on-job training, leadership roles and individual growth during seminars and workshops. They get a chance to learn important skills including leadership, conflict resolution, industry standards and protocols, workplace diversity, and emerging trends in the healthcare industry. I believe empowered employees are motivated and highly productive.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for your time and insight on effective leadership especially in the healthcare industry.
Interviewee: Welcome. Thank you too for your time; the pleasure was mine. In case of any further, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Analysis of the Interview
The interviewee’s approach to leadership is reflective of the numerous challenges associated with collaborative teams. Developing a multi-pronged leadership strategy is informed by growing complexity of healthcare system. The nurse leader manages and works with a complex network of healthcare professionals and support staff. The team is involved in the delivery of quality healthcare services within a patient-centered and team-based healthcare system. Such a system requires effective communication and collaboration which can only be achieved when the workforce is empowered and a healthy culture of effective communication is fostered within the healthcare organization (Babiker et al., 2014). The interviewee ensures that the shared goals and tasks are effectively communicated. She reinforces such approaches with compassion. According to Xiao, Yilan and Qingsong (2015), compassion improves nurses’ perception of their leaders.
Creating a sense of belonging among team members has been proven to improve employee productivity, motivation and job satisfaction. As a leader, the nurse has adopted various strategic approaches aimed at fostering a sense of belonging including delegation, communication, democratic leadership approach, and employee empowerment. Studies have shown that employee empowerment plays a critical role in individual employee and organizational growth and development (Babiker et al., 2014; de Moura et al., 2017). For nurses in particular, continuous nursing education is essential in ensuring quality critical care service delivery. Moreover, nurses who continually improve their knowledge base enjoy greater job satisfaction and security, career progression and financial success.
Reflection on the Interview
The interview provided valuable leadership and management lessons whose relevance extends beyond healthcare setting or nursing practice. As an aspiring future nurse, this assignment highlighted my career progression path and options. It exposed me to knowledge on the diverse career opportunities that I can pursue in the future including nursing informatics and pediatric nurse. Additionally, I have learned critical leadership and management lessons including leadership skills such as compassion and effective time management, planning, and communication. I have also learned essential team management skills especially when it comes to managing collaborative teams within healthcare systems.
Bakkal, E. & Aydintuğ, N. (2016). The effect of toxic leadership on healthcare organizations. The Journal of Academic Social Science Studies. 43, pp. 519 – 522.
de Moura, A. et al. (2017). Leadership and nursing work satisfaction: An integrative review. Acta Paulista De Enfermagem, 30(4), 442-450.
Babiker, A. et al. (2014). Health care professional development: Working as a team to improve patient care. Sudan J Paediatrv, 14(2): 9–16.
McLeod, S. (2018). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. SimplyPsychology. Web.
Xiao, P., Yilan, L. & Qingsong, Z (2015). Caring behavior perceptions from nurses of their first-line nurse managers. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 29(4), 708-715.