By Rose O. Sherman, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Sometimes leaders need to push their staff out of the nest to help them to grow. I recently spoke with a manager who found herself in this position. One of her charge nurses had asked to attend the emerging leader course in her health system. She did well in the course and was identified as a high potential future leader in her organization. She seemed very excited about a leadership career. But it is now six months since she took the course. She still has not applied for any leadership openings. Her manager asked me what she should do. I advised her to set up a coaching session to find out what was holding her charge nurse back from moving forward. She learned during this session that the nurse really feared the decision to leave her comfort zone.
She had worked on the unit for five years and was worried about leaving behind valued colleagues and well-established routines. Her rationale is congruent with what we know about the role of habits in our lives. Our work lives are a series of habits, both good and bad that we develop over time. Habits are the brain’s way of saving energy. Whenever we try to change something in our lives (such as leaving a unit to take a leadership role), it means changing habits. This can only happen with very intentional work because new habits require extensive practice.
The prospect of doing something new or different can be stressful. Many of us have a bias to maintain the status quo because it is easier. When we consider whether or not to leave for another position, we often just think about what we are leaving behind. This is where the manager began with her coaching of the charge nurse. They discussed the great contributions that she had made to her unit. They then shifted to what she wanted for the future.
Some great reflective questions to use in this situation include the following:
- What do you want to be different in the next 3-5 years of your career?
- What are your fears about taking a leadership role?
- How could you make a difference as a leader?
- How can I help you on your path forward?
Staying in a situation also means that you are potentially giving up some great opportunities to contribute and be more productive if you did make a change. The charge nurse could find that leaving her current unit would open exciting new possibilities and lead to incredible growth opportunities. She will never know this if she does not pursue other position options. Sometimes it is the leader coach who needs to push staff out of the nest. Inevitably when leaders do this, they are thanked in the long run.
© emergingrnleader.com 2018