My background and role in the interview was to determine what it takes to be an effective leader. The central issue to understand before conducting an interview with any subject is to ask oneself these following questions. They include, who is this subject? What does he or she do? How does he or she work and what makes them who they are? Asking these questions also are important when one is conducting an interview with a leader of a health care setting or an organization.
I as a restorative coordinator in a health care setting wanted to conduct an interview with a health care leader to understand what their role is in the daily operations of a health institution. I had some objectives, and they included, to find someone who had a hand in various projects within a health organization, a person involved with quality improvements, a person who implements ideas and a person who is involved with evaluating different health outcomes. I also wanted to interview a person who had enough staff members working under them.
After considering these objectives, I made a decision to interview the director of nursing (DON) in my place of employment. This is a lady responsible for most of the clinical operations that occur on a daily basis in the health care institution. As I conducted the interview, I wanted to find out her personal philosophy of leadership, and her professional interactions with staff members including doctors, other health care managers, staff members and other auxiliary personnel involved in the health care institution.
The director of nursing leadership style and some of the major financial, ethical, clinical, administrative and personal challenges involved with leadership would be discussed. Finally, the DON’s mentor if any as she aspired to become a leader and her advice to me to become an effective leader would also be discussed throughout this paper. Who is a leader? After an informal introduction of the reasons why I wanted to conduct an interview with her as the director of nursing, I asked the number one question, “Who is a leader”? She stated and I paraphrase “a leader is basically a person that does everything.
According to Sullivan and Decker (2009), “a leader is a person that uses interpersonal skills to influence others while trying to accomplish a specific goal through means of flexible repertoire of personal behaviors and strategies” (p. 45). A healthcare leader is a person in the health care profession with or without a specific job title, and uses that role as a leader to affect change through various means. I waited for the DON to provide more detailed response of a leader, she stated, “well follow me around for a day and see what I do and this would give you an idea of what a leader does”.
Those statements by the DON lead me to finding out about the important qualities and characteristics of a leader. Important qualities or characteristics of a leader. I began my day of following the director of nursing, by observing a morning meeting that she leads on a daily basis called “Stand-up”. She invites heads of different department to give a daily report of the previous day’s operations. During this morning stand-up meeting, I observed some qualities that I think make a person an effective leader.
First, listening to other peoples’ ideas and providing suggestions on how to improve patients’ care and outcomes is a hallmark of an effective leader. From observation, I was able to see firsthand how the DON listened to different people in the meeting. Expectation of feedback from staff members is another characteristic of an effective leader. During the meeting, the DON requested feedback from staff members whenever an idea was brought up. She offered her opinion and requested other peoples’ opinions on different topics.
For instance, an idea was brought up during the meeting on how to decrease the number of falls among dementia patients. The DON requested every concerned department to provide a proposal on how to accomplish that task. She also set a deadline for the proposals for the following day. Other qualities of a leader include finding ways to affect change. Some of the ways include, introduction of ideas, creation of new policies and procedures, helps with changing existing policies and helps with implementation and evaluation of outcomes in a health care setting (Collinson, 2006). Personal philosophy of leadership.
Leadership is viewed by people in different ways. A person’s idea of what makes a great leader may be different from others. So the next question I asked the DON was what her views were of leadership in healthcare and what roles leaders play in making sure that tasks are completed effectively, institution policies and procedures are followed. The DON proceeded to discuss her leadership style. She stated that she does not believe in using only one leadership style because every situation is different. The director of nursing provided me with examples of when she uses different leadership style.
For example, she usually uses a democratic leadership style whenever she wants other staff members to have an active role in task completion. She uses transformational leadership style when issues are more complex and needs more inclusion of inspiration from a leader. For example, if an issue of an ethical nature comes up, transformational leadership style is used. She also stated that her leadership views are evolving because she sometimes makes mistakes when dealing with staff members. Learning experiences in her personal development as a leader.
The director of nursing’s learning experiences over the years as she became a leader in health care included mistakes she made over financial and personnel issues. One of her most poignant one was that she mistakenly fired a staff member as a result of someone else’s lies. She did not conduct a thorough investigation over the issue before she fired the staff member. As a result the health institution was sued for illegal termination. The case was settled, but she was taught a lesson of how to conduct a detailed investigation of issues before taking actions. How leadership in Nursing is evolving today.
Leadership in nursing today requires extensive educational background. In previous years, a registered nurse who has practiced for a long time can become a manager on a unit and even head a whole department. In recent times, the more education a nurse has, the more important he or she becomes. Not to say that it is a bad thing, but sometimes experience trumps education. The DON I interviewed is a master’s graduated nurse of three years. She stated that she wished that she had more experience before taking over a leadership position because it was a steep learning curve for her.
Challenges in her current position. Some of the challenges involved with being a leader described by the director of nursing include dealing with different egos in the workplace. She stated that one of her pet peeves in this position is that no matter how much she tries to act cordially toward some people in the work place, some staff members just want to make everything difficult for her to manage. Other challenges include trying to get staff members to adhere to rules and regulations of the health institution.
Some staff members as the DON stated find it difficult to follow instructions, so her challenge is to come up or elicit ideas from people on how to make staff members adhere to the policies established. The DON’s mentor and her advice for someone aspiring to be a healthcare leader. As the director of nursing described during the interview, her mentor was the previous director of nursing in the same health institution before she retired. She learned various leadership techniques and strategies from the previous DON.
She learned how to communicate with staff members and how to encourage others people to work together as a team. In terms of her advice to me as someone aspiring to be a leader in healthcare, she stated that, I should make sure to act with integrity in everything I do as it pertains to my job description. Her reason for this is that, staff members respect and work for any leader or manager who acts in an honest way. She also stated that I should treat everyone in an equal footing because perception is often times reality for staff members who may think that some staff members are treated differently from others.
Conclusion Conducting an interview with a healthcare leader was a learning experience for me because of all the renewed understanding of what it takes to be a leader. “Leadership encompasses a holistic focus on shared processes, structures, and culture” (Hanson, & Ford, 2011, p. 284). I came to understand that being a leader can be rewarding as well as a difficult challenge for people. I also learned that being a leader is not for everyone, because of the physical, psychological, social, and intellectual requirements that are expected from a health care leader.