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tips for aspiring leaders

Tips for Aspiring Nursing Leaders

In our latest tips for aspiring leaders series, we turn the focus towards aspiring nursing leaders. We have had the pleasure of speaking with many nursing executive leaders of our podcast series, video interviews and various other articles. Given the vast experience they have across the sector, we ask each of them what their advice to aspiring leaders would be. In this series, we speak with Andrew Newton, Shelly Park, Tracey Burton and Nino Di Pasquale.

We also asked Ccentric Group Managing Director, Wayne Bruce, for his tips for aspiring academic leaders:
“My best advice for anyone aspiring to better their career is to ensure you are doing something you enjoy and are passionate about – if you’re not, it might be time to consider a change. Like many people, I “fell” into executive search, it was not a planned career move. However, on entering the industry, I was fortunate enough to have found what I consider my calling or vocation. This is especially so given that Ccentric’s focus is on the healthcare sector – every placement we make has an impact on people’s lives and so we can be proud that we make our own small but important contribution to the betterment of the community through what we do every day.”

Andrew Newton – Chief Executive Officer at Northern Beaches Hospital

“My top tips for aspiring leaders are the ability to listen, collaborate, and consider. Make decisions based on evidence and your experience and have the courage to follow through. Manage up an alert of risks, events, etc and do this early. Even if you’re still collecting information, raise the flag early and take a no-surprises approach.”

Shelly Park – Chief Executive at Australian Red Cross Lifeblood

“Believe in yourself, have confidence in yourself, understand the environment that you’re going to be working in. Always have the confidence to surround yourself with people who are better than yourself, to me that is the core of diversity is you have different skillsets and different thought processes. Take the time to understand and learn about the environment. Sometimes take roles that might be a sideways role, but that will actually really grow your skill set to go forward. Find some really good mentors both within the industry and outside of it, I think getting that breadth of thinking is really important. Don’t underestimate the importance of education and make sure that you keep investing in yourself.

Today, every day I read, every day I learn, every day I learn of someone else. I think that’s a great thing to invest in yourself early in your career. I often reflect on the words of one of our previous governors here in Australia, Quentin Bryce, who said, you can have it all, but not all at the same time. So, be fair to yourself and work out what you have, and when you have it. You can blend some careers and family and everything that you want to do. But sometimes you just have to work out what you’re going to give. So you’ve got to look after yourself on the whole of your career because without you there is no career.”

Tracey Burton – Executive Director at Uniting NSW/ACT

“I think the number one thing is to say yes. So even though you might doubt yourself and think, I could fail at that, I’ve never done that, how will I tackle that, do I have time. If you can say yes to those opportunities of being involved in a project, I think that’s a really important one. That’s where you get to stretch and where you get a reputation of being someone who is willing to go above and beyond and contribute as well.

I think making sure you’re making time for reflective practice is really important. Often leaders don’t realise the impact that they’re having on others. They might rush into something, and if they stopped and thought, and planned they would be in a better place. So making time for that reflective practice.

Another tip would be to actively seek feedback. Really making sure that people know that you genuinely are trying to learn and grow. Therefore, even though it might be tough love and it might be hard for you, you really want it because you are on an improvement and a journey.

The other is that someone really pushed me to do some postgraduate study when I was at a particular stage of my career. I was definitely in a senior position and was busy with kids and wasn’t sure how I would find time to do it. But I was given a bit of a push to do that and I ended up doing an MBA over several years. I took it as a journey rather than a destination. I’m forever grateful that someone really did give me that knowledge, because I think it’s really important to have that continued learning, formal or informal, as part of your offering and part of your own leadership growth.”

Nino Di Pasquale – Director of Nursing and Mental Health at Barwon Health

“I think the key ones are honesty and integrity as well as values and respect.

Honesty doesn’t necessarily mean that you tell people everything. Sometimes being honest is about saying, “I can’t share that at the moment” and the integrity associated with that. I think engagement is really important, certainly in a mental health sphere, because we’ve got to parallel the skills that we use in clinical practice.

Understanding what it is to be a leader in the role you’re considering. I think sometimes people have a certain idea about what a role might be like without realising, in fact, it’s not all shiny and glossy. It can be challenging, it can be difficult, and it can take a lot of work.

What I will say about aspiring leaders though is reminding people that you don’t have to be in a leadership role to be a leader. Leaders can be some of our most junior nurses working on the ward, as a grade-two who actually lead the most contemporary and up-to-date practice and tell us what we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing right.”

Other tips for aspiring leaders:

  • When the opportunity presents itself, grasp it with both hands. Don’t hold yourself back, be considered but also be brave in pursuing interesting options to develop yourself and broaden your experience, skillset and competencies.
  • Most importantly, ensure that you get on with people – of all types and at all levels. The single most important determinant of someone’s future success is the degree to which they are “likable” and trusted and respected by others. Be proud of your successes but also display an appropriate degree of humility and don’t be overly boastful – if you do, people will soon bring you back to earth with a thump.
  • Plan your career into the future, your dream job might take 2, 3 or 4 moves to get to, requiring you to move into different companies and/or job roles to acquire the experience and skills needed for whatever that dream is.

In addition to our Tips from Aspiring Nursing Leaders, check out some of our previous Tips for Aspiring Leaders articles here:

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