01 September 2016

Feedback - closing the loop in leadership development

Seniority isn’t a pre-requisite of being a leader, and not all managers show leadership qualities. While some people are natural leaders, leadership traits can be taught and developed. Nurses are expected to be leaders, even before we graduate, but have you ever considered the how to be a leader as opposed to a manager?

The fine line between leadership and management is one that is often blurred, but the practical differences couldn’t be more pronounced. The behavioural characteristics of a leader include confidence, purpose, courage, ethical fitness and ability to prioritise. A leader demonstrates a collaborative approach, whereas a manager is more likely to give top-down instructions and manage tasks. Taking that view to the extreme, one participant in a recent #NurChat said that ‘managers have to shelve compassion to [sic] often for the sake of targets.”

Great leadership has been associated with better patient outcomes including lower mortality rates, medication errors and hospital acquired infections. So, organisations that support the development of leadership skills in their staff are likely to provide better patient care. Meaningful feedback is the final part of the learning loop in which we as nurses can learn to be great leaders.

Every aspect of our practice as both a nurse and a leader should be subject to feedback. Part of the NHS model of leadership, the giving and receiving of feedback is crucial to personal development as a leader. Setting clear goals, expectations for achievement and linking feedback to the overall vision of success all contribute towards a collaborative approach. But is feedback on our own performance readily available and is it constructive? A recent twitter poll on @NurChat suggests that feedback of any format or content is received.

NurChat Leadership Feedback Poll

A great leader will create a culture where making mistakes are not seen as a negative, but as a learning experience for all. Open and honest feedback has a crucial role to play in this, without that constructive approach to learning, mistakes are just mistakes that will probably continue to happen. As nurses, we need to actively seek out feedback, not just for our own learning and development but it’s now a crucial part of our Revalidation.

#NurChat returns on 13 September 2016 at 8pm.


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