Developing as a Supervisor Requires Leading by Example

Posted on Tue, Oct 06, 2015
Developing as a Supervisor Requires Leading by Example

By Ginger Wirth, RN
Most of us have worked for several supervisors in our careers. We all can probably say that we have had both good and bad leaders in our careers. Of the many leaders I have worked for, there are a few that stick out in my mind as being exceptional.
I got to thinking about these individuals and wondered why these people were so influential, so memorable or so awesome; they all lead from the front and lead by example. They all got out from behind their proverbial (and at times the literal) desks and truly lead their teams. I knew that they were willing to do anything that I was ever asked to do, without fail and exception.
We’ve heard that it’s imperative to be knowledgeable about the job that we’re supervising, but it’s also important that those you are leading are confident that you can do the job yourself. I believe it’s important that we as leaders surround ourselves with talented, innovative, compassionate and trustworthy people. These people will inevitably make me, as a leader, successful. To motivate, retain and encourage talented staff, they need to believe that you have their backs, are able to step in and help in times of crisis, and that you have an intimate knowledge and understanding of what you are asking them to do.
An example of this may be completing an assessment form on a new admission/patient. As the nurse manager or director of a unit, it most certainly may not be one of your daily duties or even something that you would ever be required to complete again in your role. However, it’s required that you evaluate the staff you supervise on how well and accurate these assessment forms are completed. The expectation is that you provide feedback on the clinical documentation, accuracy of the data and the timeliness of the completion. How well do you think someone who has never worked on an inpatient floor would be able to assess and evaluate this process if he or she has never filled out this form or didn’t know the process? How confident would employees feel about that manager and her ability to accurately evaluate performance? It would be like having your local mechanic evaluate a general surgeon on his performance and clinical outcomes of an appendectomy. It probably would not go over well, and the same could be said for the reverse.
By showing instead of just telling, you’re telling your staff that you’re all in it together. And if you don’t know how to do something and a staff member does, ask them to teach you; it’ll widen your knowledge, and, perhaps more importantly, demonstrate to that employee that she’s got a unique skill – and a unique value to the team.

Ginger Wirth, RN, joined EmCare in 2013 as a Divisional Director of Clinical Services for the Alliance Group. Her goal is to make positive changes in healthcare by helping others focus on quality, excellence, and the overall patient experience. Wirth regards her role as Director of Clinical Services as the ideal opportunity to partner with nursing, physician and facility leaders to make positive changes to the entire patient care experience. Her 20-plus year nursing career has been dedicated to quality and excellence, promoting overall positive outcomes and safety for patients.

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