Ten Ways to Develop Yourself as a Leader


1. Purpose

Leaders understand the purpose in their own lives and what they wish to accomplish personally and professionally. A leader must be able to express belief in the value of his or her goals. Leaders are also able to self-reflect and act on those insights. Self-awareness is a key to strong leadership.[1] A leader's purpose is to guide others through motivation and focus. It involves accountability and responsibility.

2. Goals

Leaders should be able to envision goals and have a clear plan of action as well as strategies to achieve those goals. Goals should be specific and have a deadline. Plans must be constantly evaluated and feedback obtained as early as possible. Goals assist leaders to focus on what is relevant and important in achieving those goals.

3. Manage Your Reputation

Your reputation is one of your most valuable assets; it is what others believe about you. Henry Ford said, "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." Your reputation is built around what you do and how you do it. It doesn't matter what you say to people, they look at how you act. For most people, it takes a long time to build a good reputation, but it can be destroyed in the blink of an eye.

4. Actively Listen

Experts estimate that we hear only 10% of the information around us. Leaders know that they don't have all the answers. They are open to suggestions and know that their success is dependent on a group effort. Leaders actively listen - they focus and tune in to the individual who is speaking - without judging. They are focused on the speaker, and listen to the conversation so that they are able to repeat the speaker's intended meaning.

5. Continuing Education/Improvement

Effective leaders are not born, they are made. They are continually studying, training, and gaining experience in all aspects of their personal and professional lives, including leadership skills.  Leaders also create opportunities for progressive experiences and successes, and inspire others.


6. Collaboration
Leaders must be able to creatively collaborate with other managers and staff to enhance quality outcomes. Collaboration involves analyzing situations and defining the conflict at a higher level where shared goals are identified and commitment to work together is generated.[2] Through cooperative problem-solving, collaboration helps the team learn and grow and share different viewpoints, and find common ground.

7. Be a Role Model/Mentor

The word mentor means "a wise and responsible tutor" - an experienced person who advises, guides, teaches, inspires, challenges, corrects, and serves as a role model. Leaders are driving forces and are regarded as a source of inspiration for future nurse leaders.[3] They are a source of guidance and support and can also help create opportunities for a mentee's achievement, while encouraging professional growth. The goal of a mentor is to provide guidance and support by sharing knowledge, experience, and wisdom.

8. Manage Conflict

Conflict is a natural by-product of human interaction. Differences in knowledge, perceptions, and decisions frequently surface when people communicate. The communication process is not harmed if disagreement is managed constructively. But, when disagreement turns into conflict, it causes defensiveness, which strains the communication. If the conflict is not resolved, it will accumulate eventually to the point where communication stops. The key is to avoid blaming. Focus on the behavior or situation, not the person.

9. Learn from Mistakes

Many decisions we make may be wrong, but mistakes can be minimized. The first step is to accept the bad decision. A leader takes responsibility for his or her mistakes and approaches them as learning experiences that will inevitably teach a valuable lesson for future success. A leader will take a constructive attitude toward the mistake and look for causes, then act on the decision.

10. Realize Your Full Potential

To realize your full potential, you must have knowledge of who you are. Leaders understand cause and effect of the decisions they make, and are able to take responsibility for their actions and make changes along the way. They know there is always room for improvement. The best leaders set direction, achieve results, and cultivate a culture of growth.

Copyright 2008- American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN.ORG)-All Rights Reserved


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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