Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Hoping for Heroes: The Leadership Challenge

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Hoping for Heroes: The Leadership Challenge

Article excerpt

IT SEEMS EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT LEADERSHIP THESE DAYS. Leadership development workshops abound, and, as nurse educators, we are focused on preparing the next generations of nurse leaders. And yet, because nursing is a profession in which we learn to solve problems, to fix broken systems (such as the health care system), we nurses often act like heroes rather than leaders.

How many of us are exhausted and feel underappreciated? In their article "Leadership in the Age of Complexity: From Hero to Host" (www.margaretwheatley.com/ articles/Leadership-in-Age-of-Complexity.pdf), Margaret Wheatley and Debbie Frieze tell us that these feelings, born of the best intentions, are the consequences of our heroic impulses. We are deluded into believing that if we don't do it, no one will.

I have heard countless nurse leaders tell of being the only one who can, for example, make a particular change. Believing that one has some special knowledge, insight, or skill to understand the system and the need for change in a new and unique way is the hero's (or heroine's) dilemma.

Just as problematic is our wish for heroes in our leaders. We want our leaders to know what to do, particularly when situations become complex and chaotic. We want certainty, the assurance that our leaders see the path ahead. The human tendency is to attempt to minimize uncertainty and search for viable ways to address present challenges. The more complex and chaotic the environment, the more we search for certainty and a quick fix to the stress of chaos.

Along with the ability to fix problems, our strength as nurses is the leader-as-host model Wheatley and Frieze propose. …

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