Nurse Leadership and Advocacy: Assessment of Personal Leadership Skills

Nurse Leadership and Advocacy: Assessment of Personal Leadership Skills

Nurse Managers need various skills beyond their competence in clinical practice. Some of such additional skills, as highlighted through a collaborative initiative of the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), and the Association of peri-Operative Registered Nurses (AORN), are business management skills, personal and professional competencies, and ability to lead others. To evaluate a leader’s competence in these areas, one can use the Nurse Manager Inventory Tool (AONE & AACN, 2006), which rates a nurse manager’s skill based on a scale of novice to expert. In this paper, I reflect on my rating in respect to personal and professional development in the domain of the Leader Within.

The Leader within domain has four sub-domains: personal and professional accountability, career planning, personal journey disciplines, and reflective practice reference behaviors/tenets (AONE & AACN, 2006). My areas of strength in personal and professional accountability are ethical behavior and practice (item two) and professional association and involvement (item three). This is because I am aware of the expectations of a nurse as provided for in professional code of conducts of various nursing associations. Further, having ethical role models in my profession provides a resource I can consult when facing a challenging decision. In professional associations, my involvement is based on the appreciation of the role such associations have in improving nursing practice. As Weston (2010) observes, professional associations offer a way to influence change in policies and legislation on matters such as nurse staffing levels thus facilitate the establishment of better working environments for nurses. My weaknesses in this subdomain are with regard to item one (personal growth and development) and four (certification). This is because I have not achieved all I would wish to in these areas. For example, I hope to pursue graduate studies in nursing on completion of my undergraduate studies. Additionally, I need to pursue further certification to help me lead practice in different US states within my area of specialization.

Within the subdomain of career planning, my strengths lie in knowing my role (item one) and knowing my future (item two). This is due to the training and experience that has acquainted me with my current tasks and shaped my career aspirations. Clarity in my responsibilities as a nurse has arisen from my training, interaction with colleagues at work, and mentorship by my supervisors. Working as a nurse has also led me to clarify my career aspirations. I now know my desire to serve as a nurse leader and advocate for nurse-leadership of patient management in hospitals and nursing homes. One weakness that I have concerns my positioning (item 3), where I have at times found myself lacking the flexibility I need in my work to pursue training that would enhance my leadership skills as a nurse manager. However, I believe this course marks a turning point towards achieving my long-term aspirations.

In respect to the personal journey disciplines sub-domain, my strength is in reflective practice (item 3). This arises from my belief in using evidence to influence my practice. In this respect, knowledge of theoretical background of nursing and following changes in nursing practice through research, seminars and activities of professional associations has helped me to learn new evidence that supports or disapproves current nursing practices. Although I believe in participative leadership (item one), I recognized a weakness in adopting such a leadership approach especially when the nurses involved have diverse levels of competence. Further, despite my appreciation of ‘action learning’ groups (item 2) to be worthy resources to resolve issues in the workplace, at times it becomes difficult to  encourage participation of all members throughout the meetings, a challenge that is also noted in a study by Hewison, Badger and Swani (2011) of nursing home managers. My expert rating in

On the reflective practice subdomain, my overall assessment is a competent rating. My strengths in this respect are in discovery of potential (item 5), pursuit of knowledge for self and organizational improvement (item 6), using reflective learning to integrate such knowledge in my work (item 7), respect for integrity (item 1), appreciation of diversity (item 3) and recognition of multiple perspectives. These strengths arise due to a personal philosophy to remain honest and trustworthy in my life, and advance my knowledge consistently to offer better care to clients. However, I have weaknesses in keeping commitment to oneself (item 9), nurturing emotional self (item 8), and overcoming ambiguity in my environment (item 2). Such weaknesses have at times led me to experience compassion fatigue.

I will use various skills to advocate for change in my workplace. Firstly, I will use my membership in professional associations to collaborate with professional colleagues on effective staffing approaches in my organization. This will include using networks developed in such associations to agitate for effective models of care. Secondly, I will use my skills in reflective practice to role model and lead programs to change procedures for patient care in the organization. An example of these is to introduce a protocol to help nurses make decisions concerning catheterization with an aim to avoid unnecessary catheter placement and reduce duration of catheterization. As Magers (2013) notes, avoiding unnecessary catheter placement and reducing duration of catheterization are the most effective ways to reduce incidence of catheter associated urinary tract infections in different care settings.

One goal I have set to achieve growth in my leadership is better my communication with individuals from diverse backgrounds. To achieve this, I plan to look for opportunities to make friends and hold discussions with people who differ from me in respect to culture, age, race, and religion. One of these opportunities is attending action-learning groups where I can meet with colleagues with whom we do not interact during our working hours. Another opportunity is participating in social events within my community. Through these ways, I hope to gain a higher appreciation of diversity that can help me to recognize colleagues opinions thus encourage participative decision making.



American Organization of Nurse Executives & American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (2006). Nurse manager skills inventory. Retrieved from http:\\ – 2012-04-19

Hewison, A., Badger, F., & Swani, T. (2011). Leading end-of-life care: An action learning set approach in nursing homes. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 17(3), 135-141.

Magers, T. L. (2013). Using evidence-based practice to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections. American Journal of Nursing, 113(6), 34-42. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000430923.07539.a7

Weston, M. J. (2010). Strategies for enhance autonomy and control over nursing practice. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 15, retrieved from


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