Having a purpose in leadership essentially means leaders possessing some quality or virtue in them that makes them have a unique impact on others around them. It is more than just ruling over others or being in a position of authority; rather, having a sense of purpose as a leader means defining success or legacy in terms of one's impact on other people. It is this purpose that motivates effective leaders to be committed and to inspire others to achieve something great for themselves, countries, and organizations. As Henry David once said, "It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?" In nursing leadership, purpose entails the ability to lead with a common goal in mind and to be able to rally others behind you to realize this vision.
One of the things I have learned from DelHousaye's (2016) video about the "Issue of Rule" is that what gives leaders informal authority and makes people who they lead to trust them is their ability to purge the negative characteristic of rule out of their leadership style. According to DelHousaye (2016), merely controlling over people does not in itself make one a good or purposeful leader. Instead, it is the possession of unique values and qualities as a leader such as vision and motivation that enable one to be an effective leader. Another lesson I have learned from the video is that leadership is and should not be about the clamor for top positions but instead, it ought to be the drive to have a meaningful effect on other people. To clarify this point, DelHousaye (2016) cites the book of Mathew 20 whereby James and John who Jesus' disciples used their mother to ask Jesus for top positions or formal authority in God's Kingdom. According to DelHousaye (2016), what this story teaches us is that leadership has never been and will never be about being in positions of influence and exercising authority over others but it should always be about servant leadership. A servant leader is one who visionary, has a purpose, and inspires or motivates others to do the right thing. In the context of nursing leadership, an effective nurse leader is one who has a purpose in life and inspires others below them to work towards the realization of this objective for the betterment of humanity. As Whitehead, Waeiss, and Tappen (2010) observe, good leaders in nursing are those ones who have the ability to rally others to work together in pursuing a shared goal such as the provision of quality care to patients and communicate a shared vision for the future. Shared vision and goals constitute a common purpose.
According to Martin, McCormick, Fitzsimons, and Spirig (2014), the significance of nurse leaders having a vision or purpose is that it enables them and their teams to be committed and inspired, hence making it possible to realize some set goals. Furthermore, purpose in nursing leadership helps drive practice development and promote a culture of safety and quality enhancement in patient care. Nursing mainly entails striving for higher quality standards for patients, families, and communities. Hence, purpose in nursing leadership has implications for practice in that it provides meaning for leaders and motivates them to ensure that this shared vision of quality care is accomplished and sustained. Additionally, purposeful leadership in nursing helps keep nurse leaders going, inspire others, give them meaning, motivate them to do more, and keep them focused on the broader objectives of the healthcare system (Scully, 2015). Purpose also enables nurse leaders to be resilient and courageous, gives them personal power, and keeps them engaged.
In summary, the subject of purpose in nursing leadership entails the ability to be a servant leader - rather than merely a ruler - who is visionary or inspirational and can influence others to rally behind a shared goal. It is this purpose that acts a driving force for meaningful change in nursing and distinguishes between effective and ineffective nurse leaders. Purposeful leaders are creative, innovative, and have something that stirs their passion to do better and right.
DelHousaye, D. (2016). Servant leadership - The issue of rule. [YouTube file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLqKj_eriTOI9Js2i_C2mitH1P96Zf6Q__&v=2MIFljnQ1bM
Martin, J., McCormick, B., Fitzsimons, D., & Spirig, R. (2014). The importance of inspiring a shared vision. International Practice Development Journal, 4(2), 1-15.
Scully, N.J. (2015). Leadership in nursing: The importance of recognizing inherent values and attributes to secure a positive future for the profession. Collegian: The Australian Journalof Nursing Practice, Scholarship, & Research, 22(44) 139-444
Whitehead, D.K., Weiss, S.A., & Tappen, R.M. (2010). Essentials of nursing leadership andmanagement. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company
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