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NP & PA Student Blog

DNP Essential: Leadership 2.0

Published July 29, 2014 3:29 PM by Johanna Golston

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing published the "The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing" in 2006. There are eight essentials outlining the required competencies of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduate. The second essential pertains to leadership and emphasizes the DNP's ability to facilitate organization-wide practice changes and provide guidance and oversight of nursing staff. I am currently enrolled in an Organizational Systems and Leadership course in my DNP program. Throughout this class we have been required to complete tests evaluating our leadership styles, strengths and weaknesses. We have explored which leadership approaches best suit our styles, personalities and organizations.

The StrengthFinder 2.0 test identifies the test-taker's strengths in four categories of leadership: executing, relationship building, influencing and strategic planning. These categories are then broken down into specific themes of strength. I showed strength as an achiever in the executive category, skills of empathy and developing in relationship building, and strategic and futuristic thinking in the strategic thinking category. I did not show strength within the influencing category. As an achiever, I excel at developing trust within a team through possession of a strong work ethic and dedication to the project. The ability to make the entire team feel like they belong and willingness to work alongside others strengthens the cohesiveness of the team. Empathy allows me to recognize and positively reinforce team members' achievements, as well as encourage others to recognize and evaluate their feelings. Strength in strategy facilitates visualization of the entire picture-potential problems and probable solutions. As a developer, I fill others with inspiration, acceptance, compassion and support. Futuristic thinking allows me to think beyond the present and strategize for the future. These leadership strengths encourage teamwork, innovation, accomplishment and reflection among the team. These strengths I agree with.

A second leadership evaluation was also completed, the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 appraisal. This test is based upon the belief that an important aspect of leadership is the possession of emotional intelligence: the ability to identify and utilize one's mood and emotions, as well as the moods and emotions of others. Strengths and weaknesses in the classifications of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management were identified.  My scores indicated that although I need to work on my self-awareness, I am somewhat skilled at self-management. I agree that I am usually able to manage my emotions, especially in a work environment. I also agree that some of this perceived emotional management is due, in part, to my lack of emotional self-awareness, which for me is caused by intolerance of strong personal emotion. I believe that this trait also affects my relationship management abilities. I avoid conflict or emotionally harming others at the expense of my own emotions. While this initially serves to enhance relationships, it often ends up sabotaging them. That being said, I disagree with the low score that I received in the category of social awareness. I believe that I am aware of others' emotions, sometimes to a fault. This has served me very well as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, but it also leaves me vulnerable to burnout and emotional exhaustion rendering me unable to acknowledge my own emotions. 

These assignments did not necessarily teach me anything new about myself, but did enlighten me as to how to use these personal characteristics in my leadership endeavors, especially the use of my "emotional intelligence." Although I do not completely agree with my personal results of this appraisal, as a psychiatric nurse practitioner this concept appeals to me. It is a reminder that everyone on the healthcare team is a human with strengths, weakness and emotions. Leadership is not about giving orders and micro-managing, it is about striving for change that benefits the majority of people, executing that change through promotion of teamwork supported by individual strengths, and celebrating the change on an emotional level - not just as a business transaction.  Leaders have weakness, individuals have weaknesses, organizations have weaknesses, but more importantly, leaders, individuals, and organizations have strengths. It is these strengths that allow for inspirational change to happen. So just a reminder, don't take the easy route of focusing on weakness - celebrate your strengths and the strengths around you!

What is your leadership style? Do you agree with the concept of "emotional intelligence" in leadership?

(Check in next month to read how I plan to use the concepts in Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal's, "Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit" to utilize my strengths and improve my weakness to become a more G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal effective leader.)

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