Nurse leadership primer: 20 key points on finding, supporting & being a great nurse leader

Nurse leadership is a key aspect of any ASC's success; they oversee clinical quality and help establish the safety culture of a facility. They are also instrumental in ensuring high-quality patient experience.

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Finding the exceptional nurse leader:

1. Don't rush the process of finding a nurse leader that is right for your organization. List the most pressing challenges facing your facility and then set out to find candidates who have the skill-sets to solve those issues. For example, if your center is facing challenges in terms of gaining accreditation, look for a nurse leader who is an expert in survey standards, according to "Exceptional ASC nurse leaders: Key advice for finding & keeping them," a previous Becker's ASC Review article.

2. But don't look at just the clinical skill-set when hiring a nurse leader. Examine the business skills the candidate possesses and whether it fits the needs of your center, according to another Becker's piece, "ASC Nurse Leadership: 10 tips to get the right people in the right places."

3. Look for an individual who will be a cultural fit for your organization. The nurse leader must be both qualified as well as in tune with the center's values and mission.

4. For the interview process, include questions specific to behaviors and situations. For example, ask candidates to discuss situations in their past that they may not have handled well, and how they would change what they did.

5. Find and hire a nurse leader who is excited about new opportunities and challenges. No two days in an ASC are the same and the leader must be prepared learn new things and take on new projects that they are enthusiastic about.

Supporting your nurse leader:

6. Finding a great nurse leader is just one half of the whole process. The next step is nurturing their professional growth and development. Placing nurse leaders on committees and quality improvement projects is a good start. Also allow them to participate in leadership training classes and offer educational opportunities. Ensure that they are challenged and supported.

7. Involve nurse leaders in all aspects of the ASC's operations so the individual has a chance to wear all the hats, be it in the clinical, financial or administrative section of ASC management.

8. Mentor young nurse leaders and show them the ropes of leadership. In addition to growing their skill-set, it is important they learn how to take and give constructive criticism as well as flex their creative problem-solving puzzle.

9. Develop solid succession planning to easily and effective identify an emerging nurse leader. Succession planning programs also allow outgoing administrators identify potential replacements with enough time to train them.

10. The best person for a leadership position may not necessarily be the most experienced person, a previous Becker's ASC Review article, "8 steps for ASCs to identify & grow nurse leaders," notes. Don't take a hierarchical approach to new nurse leadership appointments — instead fast-track the most skilled candidate for the job.

11. Provide training that is generation-specific. Nurse leaders now entering the ASC space are millennials. Millennials tend to have different values with regard to work. For example, "The best strategies to engage millennial nurse leaders," a Becker's piece points out that millennials favor work-life balance.

12. Millennial nurse leaders do not like being micro-managed. Instead, mentors can focus on framing their role as one of providing knowledge and advice to up-and-coming nurse leaders and move to the next stage of their careers.

13. It is also important for mentors of young, millennial nurse leaders to develop exercises to teach them empathy. As training has changed, new nurse leaders may have only practiced certain procedures on simulators and not real people. Additionally, they will be treating patients of an older generation, who expect appropriate communication.

14. Nurse leaders are often tasked with achieving high-reaching strategic goals. Creative problem-solving helps leaders adapt quickly and effectively, steering their facility through troubled waters. Hone a culture where creative problem-solving is not only allowed, but rewarded, according to a Becker's piece called "5 ways positive ASC employee culture translates to profitability."

Advice for nurse leaders:

15. Build trust with your co-workers and employees. There are a number of ways to achieve this, including communication openly and often, being consistent and sharing in the team's successes and failures, a previous Becker's ASC Review report, "5 ways to build trust with your employees," notes.

16. It key for nurse leaders to establish a positive workplace culture in their facilities. A happy workplace increases efficiency and promotes long-term investment in the center from employees. Additionally, promoting team work reduces clinical failures and mistakes.

17. Apply transformational leadership practices, which entails motivating employees to work toward a collective goal. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, shows transformational leadership could have a positive impact on the quality of patient care.

18. Employ staff management techniques to control costs. These techniques include avoiding over-scheduling staff, benchmarking and automating processes, such as payroll and time-off requests, according to a previous Becker's piece, "Cut costs with better staff management: 5 best ideas.

Mitigating leadership-related burnout

19. Leaders tend to burnout if they do not take certain steps to manage their stress levels. The American Medical Association compiled a number of strategies to manage burnout when in a leadership role, such as considering one's emotions before reacting and acknowledging and managing conflict.

20. Additional stress-busting strategies include encouraging team work and actively listening to those you work with. Understanding where someone is coming from can help leaders manage more effectively and avoid stressful situations.

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