From Bedside to Boardroom: How CNOs Can Cultivate the Nursing Leaders of Tomorrow
It’s no secret that nurses are at the forefront of healthcare.
Every second of every day, nurses around the world work closely with patients to provide quality care and support. Caring for others is a 24/7/365 job—making effective nursing leadership that much more crucial to ensuring the delivery of safe and high-quality care.
However, effective nursing leadership goes beyond individual nurses to the management and leadership of nursing staff.
It’s our Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) who play the most vital role in identifying and nurturing future nursing leaders. And to say this task is essential would be an understatement. Effective nurse leadership is key for identifying problems in patient care delivery, working with staff to find solutions, and ultimately, creating a healthier world for all.
CNOs are responsible for managing and leading nursing staff, including delegation of tasks, scheduling, and ensuring that patient care is delivered efficiently and effectively. But clearly, they can’t do it all. More than half of all Registered Nurses (RNs) in the U.S. are over age 50, and many are preparing to change careers, retire, or simply scale back their work hours for some much-deserved recreation in the second half of their lives. So, the race is on to preparing the next generation of nurses to step up as leaders.
In this article, we’ll explore six key steps CNOs can take to help nursing leaders emerge and reach their maximum potential.
Six Ways for CNOs to Cultivate Strong Nursing Leaders
1. Identify early leadership potential.
Identifying leadership potential is a critical step in cultivating future nursing leaders. CNOs must have a deep understanding of the skills, knowledge, and experience that make a good nursing leader.
Identifying leadership potential takes time and will require patience and a keen eye toward things like:
- Observing staff members in action—especially in stressful or challenging situations
- Considering their track record of success
- Looking for qualities like excellent communication skills, problem-solving abilities, a willingness to take on challenges, and a passion for providing excellent patient care
But it’s unrealistic to expect nurses to demonstrate these qualities immediately, especially depending on how early they are in their career. So, offering and encouraging regular professional growth and development is another essential factor for identifying future nursing leaders.
2. Implement nurse manager training and continual professional development.
Once potential leaders have been identified, the next step is to provide opportunities for continuing education, mentorship and leadership training to help develop their potential and prepare them for future leadership roles.
An effective nurse manager training program should include a mix of classroom instruction, hands-on training, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities—while providing access to mentorship and regular performance evaluations. By offering comprehensive nurse manager training programs, CNOs can help nursing staff develop the skills and knowledge needed to become effective nursing leaders, while also:
- Fostering a more supportive work environment
- Increasing job satisfaction
- Reducing stress
- Preventing burnout
3. Develop effective nurse leadership skills.
Developing effective nurse leadership skills is imperative to developing transformative nursing leaders.
Transformative leadership goes beyond the basic (yet essential) skills like communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and team-building. As explained by the University of Indianapolis, transformative nurse leadership qualities include attributes like:
- Individualized consideration: These people identify individual staff needs, provide effective feedback that fosters professional growth, and utilize different communication methods to regularly engage with staff.
- Intellectual stimulation: Those who question the status quo, support creativity at work, try to solve problems, work collaboratively, and respect the views of others embody these qualities.
- Inspirational motivation: Nurses who present a vision in which team members can achieve their personal goals by focusing on the organization’s goals, avoid micromanaging, and give staff the freedom to explore different career paths while using customized rewards and recognition to keep them engaged, is truly inspiring and motivating everyone with whom they interact.
- Individualized influence: These natural influencers model behavior for emerging leaders to emulate, acknowledge difficulties and encourage problem-solving, and focus on staff members’ positive qualities rather than their shortcomings.
4. Empower nursing staff to row into their autonomy.
Creating an environment that fosters autonomy and decision-making can help nursing staff feel more confident and engaged in their work. For example, encouraging open communication and collaboration can help build a sense of community and support among nursing staff. This also provides opportunities for career advancement, such as promoting from within, and offers additional training and education opportunities to help retain top talent.
Additionally, empowering nurses can be achieved through the development of policies and procedures that specifically guide them in their everyday practice. Such policies help nurses to act autonomously while providing confidence in their role, enabling them to make informed decisions when facing roadblocks in providing care. Regular review and updates of these policies with input from nursing leaders who enforce them among their staff—are also key to ensuring their effectiveness.
5. Implement Nurse Retention Strategies
Understanding the link between leadership development and nurse retention is key. Naturally, nurse retention rates are directly linked to job satisfaction, with one study showing that nurses were 2.5 times more likely to leave their roles than those satisfied in their jobs. Much of this workplace satisfaction (or lack thereof) is impacted by leadership quality—and it sets a precedent for future leaders, as well.
It’s all connected:
→ Effective leadership can lead to increased job satisfaction.
→ Increased job satisfaction can lead to a more positive work environment.
→ A more positive work environment can inspire stronger motivation.
→ Stronger motivation can be the catalyst for leadership development.
→ Positive leadership experiences can lead to better future leaders.
And ultimately, it all leads to increased retention rates.
Of course, things like competitive compensation and benefits packages, providing opportunities for continuing education, offering flexible schedules, creating a supportive work environment that promotes work-life balance, and fostering a culture of recognition and appreciation are helpful, too.
6. Build a strong nursing leadership pipeline.
Lastly, succession planning for nursing leadership positions is the final piece of the puzzle to successfully identify and prepare potential leaders for future roles.
CNOs should plan to collaborate with human resources and other departments to create a thorough succession plan that outlines key positions, identifies potential candidates, and provides a transition plan for leadership roles.
Continual assessment and development of potential leaders is also a major part of building a strong nursing leadership pipeline. CNOs can create a culture of ongoing feedback and performance evaluation to identify areas for improvement and development. And going back to points two and three above, mentorship programs and other learning opportunities will be key in developing potential leaders and preparing them for future leadership roles.
Partnering With Remede: A Key to Unlocking Your Nursing Leadership Potential
At Remede, we’re committed to helping CNOs identify and hire top nursing leaders to improve patient care delivery and promote job satisfaction and retention. Our unique approach to healthcare staffing is built on a culture of respect, compassion, empathy, and a belief in empowering our team members, healthcare providers, and facilities to deliver safe, high-quality care to those who need it most.
By partnering with Remede, CNOs gain access to our broad network of qualified nursing talent, comprehensive screening and assessment services, and ongoing support for both clients and candidates. We understand the importance of building a strong nursing leadership pipeline and are dedicated to helping passionate leaders like you find the best possible candidates for your organization.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you take your organization to the next level.