Nurse Leadership Brings Influence

Nurse Leadership Brings Influence

Nurses are often rightly pleased to be members of a profession that is routinely ranked as the most trusted profession. But does that trust and respect transfer directly to getting your voice heard? Not necessarily.

Nurses are ranked as members of the most respected profession, but one that is the least influential, says Dr. Daniel Pesut, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, professor of nursing at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and the director of the Katherine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership.

When nurses take assessments that help determine their strengths, lots of nurses fall into a strategic or executive corner, says Dr. Pesut, but lack the most representation in the corner where influence is most important. This is where nurse leadership becomes all important. The problem is that nurses need to have their voices heard collectively as professionals and on the job as individuals. “Lots of leadership is about influencing,” says Dr. Pesut.

So if your strengths don’t square you in that corner where you can influence people, can you change that?

The short answer is yes. Dr. Pesut recommends nurses watch the Wisdom Dialog series by Eleanor Sullivan, PhD, RN, FAAN, who wrote Becoming Influential: A Guide for Nurses. Learning about and understanding the dimensions of influence are often the first steps to learning how to garner influence. A lot of it, says Dr. Pesut, is understanding the meanings behind what’s being said and what’s not being said.

Taking on leadership roles at work is an important step to becoming influential. “There are some who are always task oriented and there are some who always want to do more and feel compelled to do more because of their values and beliefs,” he says. Nurses with those qualities who nurture those attributes can become better leaders, but they also have to look at not just leadership, but resiliency.

Dr. Pesut addresses the idea of nurse leaders needing to bounce forward, not just back, in the book he co-wrote with Elle Allison-Napolitano, Bounce Forward: The Extraordinary Resilience of Nurse Leadership. Being able to take care of yourself and doing it reliably, puts a nurse in a good position to handle the inevitable setbacks and crises that will come in any leadership role.

Being able to nurture and support resilience in nurse leaders so they can continue to put their resilient leadership style into good and effective use in the workplace can only help their influence as a profession grow.

Would You Be a Good Nurse Leader?

Would You Be a Good Nurse Leader?

Do you have what it takes to be a good nurse leader?

With the call for more nurse leaders to step up in a time of high demand for excellent nursing skills, many nurses have to wonder if they have the skills and the strengths of a nurse leader.

Every nurse has an opportunity to lead every day and in every way,” says Dr. Daniel Pesut, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, professor of nursing at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and the director of the Katherine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership.

But how do you start taking on leadership duties if you don’t know where to begin? “Get clear about what your strengths are and what your purpose is,” says Dr. Pesut.

Although nurses can certainly do some deep reflection and introspection to find out their strengths, Dr. Pesut suggests a different approach that he uses in his classes. Using the book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (Gallup), nurses can take the assessment and figure out their top five signature strengths, he says, out of a list of a potential 34 identified strengths. Then align the results with the four things followers want from leaders – trust, compassion, stability, and hope.

The resulting matrix shows nurses how they can best use their strengths for leadership. For example, if one of your strengths is strategic, the matrix can help you figure out how to elicit more trust or show compassion, says Dr. Pesut. “It’s a leadership blueprint and you can use that in your personal and professional development,” he says. Often, his students say the assessment assignment is one of their favorite assignments in class, if not ever.

He also suggests checking out the assessment on the Via Institute on Character’s assessment at that reveals your top 24 character strengths and values. Surveys like these help you identify certain characteristics you might not be aware of and even ways to help those strong characteristics work in your career.

Once you’ve got your list, you can even compile your words into a personal statement of sorts. “The value of that is that it gives you a vocabulary for expression that you may not have had before,” Dr. Pesut says. Then when you go into work, you can find that you provide value where your strengths lie and can position yourself to use those strengths – whether that’s focus or connections or learning.

Play to your strengths and work around your weaknesses,” Dr. Pesut says.