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Characteristics of an effective faculty leader

If   the   only tool   you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail and for someone to have this type of attitude towards problem then it is only possible by developing leadership qualities within him. Today education is the only base for all that we have understood about this world. We can recognise things, we are able decide our action, we innovate things, we inspire others with our work, knowledge, we can develop team, we can develop large organisations in the field of medical, nursing and even education systems only because of education that  we had acquired. Therefore good education is very important part of our life and to have effective education, we today desperately needs leaders in this field. Leaders in various education systems should recognize and take responsibility for the intellectual and educational development of their students as well as for their personal, emotional, social and physical development also. Leaders in any education system may it be medical, nursing or social need to develop the capacities of the spirit of inquiry of students, need to develop their creativity and their entrepreneurial and moral leadership. This way only they can become their leaders and role models. (Reference: Reynolds & Warfield (May 2010) “The difference between managers and Leaders”).

One of the characteristic of leader can be understood with one proverb which has been correctly mentioned by someone very knowledgeable. It says “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand. This is what is required in today’s leaders in education. They need to involve students, nurses, practitioners in everything that is being taught. Incorporating such systems in education needs leadership qualities, as these involves developing innovative ways, taking calculated risk for changes within the system and inspiring others by solving problems to implement this ways. These types of teaching help students to learn completely which can be remembered throughout their life.  A teacher teaches students a lesson for a day; but the teacher, who is having leadership qualities, teaches students by innovative ways, teaches students to learn by creating curiosity and this helps students to continue the learning process as long as he lives. This is what the difference between the Leader and the follower. Leader does not only mean boss or the top designation within the organisation, leaders can be anyone within the system or within the organisation, and may it be a teacher or principal or head of the organisation. Simply having top designation does not mean he is a leader. Leadership is developed and not comes with birth.  The managers in education system who is not having leadership qualities have the sub-ordinates.  But the Leaders in education system have the follower. (Reference :Improving school leadership (June 2009) by By Beatriz Pont, Deborah Nusche, Hunter Moorman.)

Today nursing has become an important humanistic practise which works on diversified responses of clients with health problems.  These clients may be individuals, families and even communities. Along with these requirements, there are also lot of changes which are taking place in education of nursing. These includes new regulations in teaching , wide variety of students coming for nursing education, their personal background, their abilities etc,   and managing all them to make these students  understand and develop their nursing skills is a challenge and  needs leaders  to work out the same.

Today’s leaders of nursing faculty has special leadership characteristics these are  guidance  and  implementation of such education systems which reflects a synthesis of  knowledge from within the society of humans, natural science and  focus on values consistent with nursing humanistic orientation that can understand and focus on clients autonomy, integrity and dignity. Leaders should develop the base of education such that it should focus on developing nursing skills which can help nurses in assessment of clinical states, diagnosing and evaluating human responses to things which affect the client’s state of health. With such base of education, skilled nurses will be in high demands and thus these educational organizations will flourish and definitely the organization will grow. This type of guidance by leaders will also take care of expanding diversity of students, higher learning standards. Leader’s guidance helps in maximum educational success of all students which is increasing demand for today escalating standards and demographic changes with respect to education in nursing. Such is the importance of good characteristics of leaders which plays an importance role in the growth of any educational faculty.  Today with the reformation of federal and state education, there is increased responsibility on leaders to ensure that student’s achievements are high and the same are being measured by their academic records and result. Therefore this calls for urgent need for the development of leadership qualities.

Leaders should have vision for effective development of nursing education system. Thus their role is important in success of schools, colleges and various education systems. Today it is the fact that managers or follower, ask how and when, they focus on maintaining the system, they rely on controls and always copy but it contrast to this, leaders think, innovate, ask what and why, trust each other, develop team, inspire others, take calculated risk, faces problems as opportunities for improvements, are optimistic, help others to grow and have vision for long term development. Leaders are always honest and they do what they speak, they have principles, they imagine the way out for achieving success and act strictly adhering to what has been planned and right for the organization or development of education systems. Leaders in education system thus maintain a competent track record of good work, they ability and make sound judgment, they believe in themselves and in the potential of others within their team.  Leaders are able to give such results that those who are within and outside their environment are also inspired & motivated. They set an example for others and make them think and act like that, leaders develop followers. Today many education systems follow the way which leaders have set. Education in nursing needs the same leaders. In nursing education, the true leaders are those on whom people can trust and can have faith. These trust is developed only when someone’s actions matches its own words. They are called leaders. Peoples will follow leaders only when they trust them. And developing trust is one important characteristics of true leader irrespective from which field he is it can be any field like nursing education or a medical hospital and organizations. Maintaining trust in follower is equally important.

In nursing educational organization, leaders should be leading with love and must take care of the people within his team or with which they work including the organization. Effective leaders are the core of every developed and successful organization. They create a working culture and environment where people can reach their best level of achievements.  Leaders in nursing field know the answer of question like what does it mean to teach in a nursing program? How effectively students can be demonstrated on nursing skills?

How students can decrease the gap between theories and there practices with education, how this gap analysis can be done by our education program? (Reference :NLN’s Blue Ribbon Panel’s discussion (Feb 2011)on transforming clinical nursing education.)  Etc, and what methods implementation within the educational organization will give answers of this questions. Leaders must know this. Apart from this, leaders also work with each other as a team (and not as individuals) and promote collaborative work to target and achieve mutually agreed goals. They develop competent and potential having peoples by working on their weakness. Leaders also look on strength and work on weakness of any team member to improve his performance. Train him; motivate him by ways like giving him value, respect and even incentives as and when required. Valuing people and team member is the good quality of any leader in any organization. When in any education system, advice is taken by all team members for taking any decision, helps and brings forward new ideas which ultimately help to grow the organization and to solve the problem. New education system comes in pictures with new idea, trials and errors etc. But taking advice from the entire team member is one of the good leadership qualities. Authentic leader must set a path for education and personal success for each and every student. To set a tone for the successful education journey of student is the core responsibility of good leader.

Leaders in nursing education must support, evaluate and develop teacher’s quality at every step.  Leaders should focus on development of teachers in adaption and in alignment with new syllabus, new nursing regulations, and local needs. Leaders should be ensuring that teaching is of high quality all the time. Leaders should monitor and plan training if required for professional development of all staff members. Goals are important for improving the performance and therefore leaders set goals not only for his followers but also for himself. Goal setting should be followed by assessment and accountability within the nursing staff members. Progress monitoring, feedback to team for improvement is also one of the good characteristics of leader in education like nursing program. Apart from all this, leader focuses on strategic financial and human resource management. This can be done by providing necessary training to school teachers, providing financial support as required to support services to school and its analysis all time to cut the same were unnecessary.    Leaders in nursing education must have the ability to decide on correct recruitment to improve the match between candidates and their needs of school or nursing education system. Leaders think and learn new good systems from other leaders and in this nursing education; good systems can be learn and applied from other recognized education systems. Leaders look and ensure that work distribution is good and no one is having extra burden of work and no one having less work. Leaders optimize the work distribution among the team. The leaders should also give a chance to students to give new suggestions, feedbacks on their education. This will help to improve system and students will fill that they are being involved in all activities and are valued in this program of education. This is one of the characteristic of leader to involve the team and involvement improves learning process. This way leaders of nursing program can improved the education system.

Since the education of nursing is integral  program and not divided into groups as well as  it focus on the complexity of nursing work, therefore leaders should develop a way to enable their teachers to teach students how to manage complexity. Even though this is out of scope of nursing education, this is the way leaders can make difference in their education system from others and improve it. Also since the nursing role is most critical when it comes in acute care unit, therefore leaders in such field should work to develop soft skills in their students to handle these conditions with innovative ways. These can be done by increasing exposure to such condition during learning or by any other innovative means which suits the nursing education system and the organization. Leaders should think to bring the most modern practices in their education system to become global. This can be done with financial calculations and developing plans to procure the same ahead. This type of vision is required in leaders for the improvement of their nursing education programs. Many a times, during actual practice, nurses need knowledge of disciplines other than their principle subject. Therefore this call for an development of education wherein other knowledge can be provided and help students in achieving success in their professional life and indirectly helps leaders in making their education system a unique program and thus reputation can be achieved by the organization. With the new methods of cross-disciplinary educations, organization will be in demand for admission of new students and thus a leader can prove his calculated risk taking abilities, his change management skills and thus can develop follower which is one of the characteristic of a good leader.( Reference : Glatter, R., W. Mulford and D. Shuttlework (2003), “Governance, Management and Leadership”, in OECD (2003) Networks of Innovation: Towards New Models of  Managing Schools and Systems, OECD, Paris.)

Leaders can develop training curriculum for their teaching staff such that teachers should be updated with all latest in the field of nursing education. They should be familiar with news related to research and developments in nursing and thus in this way students can be indirectly kept updated with all new things, new practices in nursing. Leaders must show a good direction of educating their students to the teaching staffs or even teaching staff can show this leadership by focusing on patient’s outcomes than focusing on the completion of task. They should learn that their first responsibility is patient’s good health and not task completion. This work is related to life saving activities and therefore ethical practices and mind sets are important for success of students in their professional life.

Leaders always look for opportunities to improve. With the change in time and modernization of education, policies and practices need to be reviewed and good points need to be added in them every time. This is helping educational organizations to meet upcoming demands of students as well as of regulatory authorities governing it. Thus leaders of nursing education should also ensure that their set vision is achieved within the timelines and that all their leadership qualities should help organization to grow ever time when he is involved


1)      NLN’s Blue Ribbon Panel’s discussion on transforming clinical nursing education.

2)      Improving school leadership by By Beatriz Pont, Deborah Nusche, Hunter Moorman.

3)       Glatter, R., W. Mulford and D. Shuttlework (2003), “Governance, Management and Leadership”, in OECD (2003) Networks of Innovation: Towards New Models of  Managing Schools and Systems, OECD, Paris.

4)      Reynolds & Warfield 2010, “Effective leaders play a vital role in settling the direction of successful schools”

5)      Reynolds & Warfield 2010 “The difference between managers and Leaders”.

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