“Leadership is not about a title or designation. It is about impact, influence and inspiration,” says best-selling writer and leadership expert, Robin S. Sharma. This statement reflects my personal beliefs about career and leadership opportunities. Anyone can be a leader.
As a nurse, my last position was Director of Patient Experience for six hospitals in a health care system. I was a department of ONE. Nobody reported to me. My role required me to coach, mentor, support, train, inspire over 5,000 leaders, physicians, and staff to create an exceptional experience for the patients and families who entered the facilities. My role was one of leadership even without direct reports. In this role, I led by influence. I built relationships with people and gave them the tools to be all they could be in their roles and in their careers. I was also responsible for facilitating change. I believe the most effective way to create change is by engaging the people who are doing the job that will be affected by the change in helping to design the change process. As I reflected on how my leadership journey began, I remembered my first position as a nurse. I worked on a pediatric unit of a hospital.
I was 21 years old, leading a team of Certified Nursing Assistants and Licensed Vocational Nurses many of whom had worked in that department longer than I had been alive. They had extensive practical knowledge and experience. I quickly recognized the need to develop a relationship and trust with the team members I was leading. I cared about my team and valued each member’s role and experience. We had the same goal: to take excellent care of extremely ill children. We needed each other. Although I was the leader of the team, I was not their manager. I had to lead by influence, not authority.
My second lesson from that first position had to do with being a change agent. One night, several nurses were in the café talking about the unit and things we could do to improve the child’s experience. The next day, I shared our concerns with my manager. She told me I would need to meet with the Chief Nurse. Never having been to administration or having met the Chief Nurse, I did not know that was not commonly done in those days. She listened and said she would see what could be done.
Leadership is not about a title or designation. It is about impact, influence and inspiration.”
Over time, everything on the list was accomplished. I learned, if you want to make meaningful changes, you must ask the people who are doing the work. I also learned that you do not need to have a title to be a change agent.
Between those two positions, I had several others. I have taught in two different academic settings, opened a new nursing unit, and served as Director of Education for a hospital responsible for staff, patient, and community education. In each position, I had the opportunity to build on the leadership lessons learned in my first job.
John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” This is my belief about leadership. Whether or not you have a leadership title, you can be a leader.
Mindy G. Spigel RN, MSN