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Qualities in a great nurse manager

There’s no such thing as a perfect boss, but there IS such a thing as a great one.

So what makes a great boss?

It’s not an easy thing to put your finger on.

Daniel Goleman tried to do just that in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, in which he writes about the common qualities he saw in the hundreds of successful top execs he studied. Goleman determined that beyond plain old smarts and good decision-making, it was the “people person” types that made the best leaders.

These are some qualities that I think great nurse managers share. What do you think?

They recognize and amplify individual talents

Great managers know that job tasks are not always one size fits all. I love the story about the Walgreen’s manager who realized that one of her employees excelled at organizing and stocking aisles, but wasn’t so great on register. Rather than putting each of the employees in charge of one aisle, which was the model typically used in Walgreen’s, she started assigning this one employee to the task. He excelled and the other employees were thrilled they didn’t have to do what they considered to be a mundane task. Obviously, being a nurse isn’t quite the same as working in retail, but there are plenty of opportunities on a unit or in a clinic to find out where each nurse’s individual strengths lie.

They give feedback in private

Getting feedback is kind of like going to the dentist. We all need it now and again. Feedback makes us improve, it strengthens us, it sometimes catches us in bad habits before they get out of hand, but that doesn’t mean it’s a pleasant experience. A great manager gives feedback at an appropriate time and in a safe space. Not in front of others.

They acknowledge small accomplishments on a regular basis

Do you ever get a compliment from your boss? “You did a really nice job with that patient” or “I saw how calmly you responded to that code?” If you don’t, you should! Those small acknowledgments can keep you going after a tough day. Having a boss who focuses on daily positive outcomes helps create a culture where receiving good feedback is the norm. It instills team confidence and makes you feel like what you do gets noticed.

They don’t crucify you for making a mistake

I made a med error once. It was early on in my career and the moment I realized it, it was as if the earth gave way beneath my feet. I’m sure you know the feeling. No major harm was done and I was able to get through the rest of my day with the help of my charge nurse and a gracious medical team. To my boss’s credit, as she passed me in the hallway at one point in the afternoon, she pulled me quietly aside and asked if I’d filled out an event report yet. I said I had, and she nodded at me and moved on. What that nod said to me was, “You’re okay. Mistakes happen. You did the right thing.” It meant that I was able to work through those unit doors the next day. It’s always good to know when someone has your back.

Your turn

What qualities do you think make a great nurse manager? Share your comments here.

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By | 2021-04-08T11:17:02-04:00 October 25th, 2012|Categories: Archived|0 Comments

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