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Book review: ‘Leading Valiantly in Healthcare’

You don’t need to be a nurse executive to read this book.

All nurses are leaders, from chief nursing officers to new graduate RNs. Leadership is inherent in what we do as nurses. We teach nearly everyone we meet, from patients to families to doctors, to other nurses. With a hatchet in hand, we clear the thick vegetation that mires the healthcare path, for our patients who must travel them. We walk against a current of complex problems all day, further compounded by an incessant stream of input from those around us.Catherine Robinson-Walker, author of “Leading Valiantly in Healthcare: Four Steps To Sustainable Success.”

Sometimes you may lead successfully, but don’t know how to replicate that success. Or the outcome of a tough situation ended fairly well, but you didn’t stay true to who you really are through it all. And sometimes, you may find yourself leading what feels like a sinking ship.

“Leading Valiantly in Healthcare: Four Steps To Sustainable Success,” written by Catherine Robinson-Walker and published by The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, offers valuable advice, for leaders of varying capacity, to lead more effectively than ever before, while still honoring the authentic self.

In her introduction, Robinson-Walker promises to help the reader gain deeper insight into the meaning behind valiant leadership; and then learn how to apply theory to real life.

“Leadership Valor is first and foremost a way of experiencing yourself: of being brave enough to show up amid uncertainty; aware enough to make conscious, often difficult choices; and deliberate enough to face what is not working and address it so you can be more effective.”

Pulling from years of experience as a healthcare executive coach and strategic consultant, Robinson-Walker delivers on this promise. But she doesn’t believe in perfection. And it is with her first meaningful question in the preface that she sets the ambiance for the remainder of the book:

“I suggest that the question is not, ‘How can you be a perfect leader?’ Nor is it, ‘How can you be at your best all the time?’ Instead, the question is: How can you be at your best — how can you be a truly valiant leader — more and more of the time?”

The book is separated into three parts. Part I delves into the concept of valiant leadership, then explores the human pitfalls that can halt even the most effective leaders in their tracks. Curtailing Part I, Robinson-Walker furnishes a framework for approaching any number of difficult leadership challenges.

Catherine Robinson-Walker, author of “Leading Valiantly in Healthcare: Four Steps To Sustainable Success”

Catherine Robinson-Walker, author of “Leading Valiantly in Healthcare: Four Steps To Sustainable Success”But like a great marinade, the concepts that are discussed in Part I need time to meld, to sink in, and permeate. These are not ideas that you can absorb instantly, then immediately put to use. Their utility will evolve over time, as you begin to approach leadership problems with a fresh set of eyes. Parts II and III facilitate that immersion, allowing you to turn your mind around what it means, what it really means, to lead valiantly in the healthcare arena.

Leading Valiantly in Healthcare is meaty; chock full of potential challenges that a leader on any level will face. And with every challenge, Robinson-Walker offers an equal and opposite solution. Drawing from a wealth of experiential knowledge, the author uses realistic and well-fleshed case studies that help the reader develop a more solid understanding of, at times, abstract concepts. The author somehow manages to incorporate a sense of optimism while acknowledging the truth that the healthcare system, and the institutions and personalities within, can be fraught with complex and overwhelming problems.

Should you read this book? Absolutely.

But Leading Valiantly in Healthcare is not a book to be read in one sitting. It’s a book that takes time — for processing, for discussion and for introspection. It’s a book that deserves a captive audience.

My advice?

Form a book group. Read together, practice together, discover together. You’ll find that there’s a valiant leader within you, just waiting to be freed.

By | 2020-04-15T16:32:22-04:00 August 29th, 2013|Categories: Archived|0 Comments

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