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Leadership for Dummies

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OUR CATCHY TITLE ASIDE, LET'S BE clear: Leadership is not for dummies. Although leadership skills are different from those needed to care for critically ill newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit, the job of managing nurses is just as hard as the job of nursing, if not more so. Leadership in the NICU focuses less on technical and patient care skills than on social skills such as coaching and supervising learned from experience in dealing with people.1 As a manager, the nurse leader takes on priorities and goals that are different from the priorities and goals of the nursing staff. Instead of using their sharp assessment skills to avoid fluid overload, for instance, managers must use their assessment skills to recognize nursing skills in candidates they meet once in a 30-minute interview. Instead of prioritizing nursing care interventions for her own two-patient assignment, the manager prioritizes staffing patterns based on the skills needed by the entire patient population. Whereas staff members use every resource available to meet patient needs, nurse managers must allocate resources to keep within a tight budget. Strong fiscal skills have become extremely important for today's manager.2 But rarely do new managers have the formal training in financial skills needed to manage a budget. Managers must also be keenly aware of the relationships among staff, physicians, and other support staff, and they must continually work at keeping the environment productive for staff. They must know what motivates the NICU staff to achieve the goals of the unit. Perhaps the most difficult task that managers have is conveying and making operational the administrative goals in a clinical setting that is intense, detail oriented, and entirely focused on the work of patient care. At every promotion, interpersonal skills become more important and technical skills become less important.1 No, leadership is certainly not for dummies.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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