Leadership Insights: Leadership at the International Level: Diplomacy in Action

By Grande, Donna | American Nurse Today, November 2015 | Go to article overview

Leadership Insights: Leadership at the International Level: Diplomacy in Action


Grande, Donna, American Nurse Today


LEADERSHIP in today's world means being versatile, resilient, and mindful of differences--whether they are cultural, geographical, or political. Now, international exchanges are part of the norm, from collegial interaction to hiring and staffing of foreign nationals. To navigate these encounters, nurses can ask themselves, "How does my awareness of international differences show up in dialogue or business transactions? How do my diplomacy skills move into action as I converse with colleagues from different countries?"

This spring, the American Nurses Association (ANA), American Nurses Credentialing Center, and King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSHRC) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, cohosted an International Conference on Nursing Excellence. The attendees shared a common language around nursing excellence, based on KFSHRC's designation as the first Magnet[R]-recognized hospital in both Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Region, along with English as a primary language.

During that time, Sandra Lovering, DHSc, RN, MBS, BScN, CTN-A, chief nursing officer at KFSHRC, navigated international diplomacy among her nursing staff in a masterful way. ANA interviewed Lovering to gain insight.

To set the stage, please share a bit of your background.

I grew up in Canada and trained and practiced nursing for 10 years in Canada and the United States before moving to New Zealand for my first international and cultural transition. From there I moved to Saudi Arabia, where I have been practicing for 22 years. I have become acculturated to the Saudi way.

What was your biggest challenge taking on a CNO role in an international hospital?

Translating my international experience from Western healthcare contexts (Canada, United States, New Zealand) to the local context was most challenging. Often, one is hired to bring Western standards to a hospital, but to be successful, you need to be able to blend different perspectives. The Western approach to leadership is individualistic and goal-focused; working in the Gulf region, I have become relationship-focused, which is a very different leadership style. …

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