Saturday, September 20, 2008

Workers Leave Managers, Not Jobs

From a nursing leadership perspective, the middle manager and his or her emotional intelligence are critical elements in recruiting and retaining nurses. Slow Leadership, one of my favorite blogs, features writing from Peter Vajda:

Twenty Indicators of Failing at Leadership

My favorite leadership failure indicators from his list:
  • Leaders who begin their responses to others’ suggestions or ideas with “no”, “but” or “however.”

This one happens all the time. Currently, my department is pushing through a space utilization request. I've had staff at every level of the approval process tell me, "You know that this space is already spoken for, right?"

  • Leaders who rationalize counter-productive processes, procedures and nonsensical bureaucratic practices by saying: “That’s just the way it is.”

Oftentimes, it takes more energy to keep the status quo than to consider an alternative. I wanted to do a replication research project when I first got here and was rebuffed. "It'll take too long to get the project approved."

  • Leaders who become defensive every time someone questions, or is curious about, one of their thoughts, beliefs or decisions.

Fortunately, we've had a regime change and it appears the newly-instated leadership is open and accepting, which was not middle management's experience with the previous occupants of the C-suite.

  • Leaders who are scattered, unfocused and unbalanced—be it mentally, emotionally or physically.

If you don't make a decision, then you can't be accused of making a bad decision, right?

  • Leaders who are a source of weakness, confusion and passing the buck in a stressful and uncertain environment.

My director scheduled a call to a specialist in a project I was working on. He commandeered the conversation and asked questions I already knew the answers to and failed to ask the questions for which I needed information. He made both of us look foolish and ill-prepared and wasted this other person's time.

Fortunately, Vajda also offers antidotes to these leadership problems through self-reflection with directed questions. I would encourage you to read them for personal insight and work. I know I used to consider being an expert clinician the height of professionalism. I'm coming up on the two-year anniversary of LT Willman's death and another well-respected nurse attempted suicide this past month. Real leadership is hands-on and messy.

So, how do YOU feel about the idea that “soft skills” are so important to defining your career as a successful leader?

1 comment:

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