We had the pleasure, once again, of leading an interactive workshop, Self-Awareness as the Foundation for Effective Leadership and Career Success, at the American Organization of Nursing Leaders (“AONL”) Executive Fellowship Program in Scottsdale. The discussion always sheds light on where organizations are struggling and what nursing leaders need to succeed.

The Challenges Facing Organizations

The session started with group discussions to identify and share notes on the challenges facing the participants’ respective organizations.  The group  identified a few common, consistent challenges including financial pressures, finding and keeping staff, and the pace of change. 

The cohort, then, had an interesting discussion about the challenges of leadership and culture, including:

  • A lack of alignment WITHIN the senior leadership team
  • A lack of effective leader development
  • Building a culture of safety
  • Effective communication

A Common Barrier: A lack of alignment WITHIN the senior leadership team

(Blog:  It’s not just about leaders – you need to support front line managers, too.)

Barriers to Leader Effectiveness

Next, the participants discussed the barriers facing them, as leaders. What gets in the way of their ability to effectively overcome the organization’s challenges and achieve their goals? 

This discussion presented an interesting mix of practical issues and, again, organizational and cultural barriers:

  • Too many meetings, and too many ineffective meetings
  • A lack of psychological safety and trust among their leadership teams
  • The challenge of creating a culture of accountability
  • Their own lack of executive experience
  • How to balance their drive to succeed with the patience required to move a large organization
  • Dealing with “reactionary” leadership styles
  • Understanding and navigating organizational dynamics

A lack of psychological safety and trust among their leadership teams

What Does Your Team Need from You?

Finally, participants shared their thoughts on what their teams need from them as leaders.  Again, there are some basics that everyone tends to agree on – consistency and stability, creating opportunities for growth and development, and ensuring that the data and systems are in place to manage effectively.

More interesting, though, they recognized that what their people need from them is empowerment, humility, vulnerability, vision and the ability to communicate that vision.

More interesting, though, they recognized that what their people need from them is empowerment, humility, vulnerability, vision and the ability to communicate that vision.

(See our recent blog on the importance of “practicing” leadership)

The Core Issues are About People, Relationships, and Communication

When these senior nursing leaders explore the challenges facing their respective organizations, the barriers to being successful in their roles, and what their teams need from them – the most important issues are about:

  • Culture, communication, psychological safety and trust, the dynamics and alignment of their own senior teams, dealing with challenging personalities and organizational dynamics, humility, vulnerability and communication.

This session was not an anomaly.  This is ALWAYS the case.  Leadership teams only make progress if they recognize these challenges, face them, and are willing to work on them.  Leadership teams that ignore these issues, continue to struggle and risk the sustainability of their organizations – and losing their best people.

Self-Awareness as the Foundation

Accordingly, the rest of the day-long session was an engaging discussion about:

  • How leadership is less about expertise than it is about relationships and communication; and
  • How these skills begin with self-awareness and applying this self-awareness to deploying different leadership styles, effective conflict resolution strategies, building effective teams, providing effective feedback and the ability to influence individuals, teams and the entire organization. 

Before our session, participants completed an online personality assessment designed to understand their individual traits, stress tendencies, and motivators. They received the J3Personica Healthcare Professional Success Guide and spent an hour with one of our healthcare specific coaches to get a deeper understanding of how the results likely manifest themselves and can be helpful, or a barrier, to success.

The participants brought this insight with them to the session and it makes for a fun, engaging discussion where they can learn from each other as a part of a community.  It’s a nice foundation for their year-long AONE Fellowship. Each year we receive feedback that this information makes a real difference for them as they go back to their teams.

To learn more about our work with nursing and physician leaders, visit our website at www.j3personica.com.