Leadership is the exercise of a team member’s rights, obligations and responsibilities to ensure safe, efficient and successful patient care.
Leadership is taking the initiative to promote teamwork and professionalism. Physicians, nurses, administrators and other people involved in the delivery of care display leadership by directing operations with confidence, gaining trust and cooperation, and inviting initiatives from other team members while ensuring task completion and safe operations. Team members display leadership by inquiring, advocating, critiquing and following practices such as planning ahead to proactively address surprises, anticipating requirements and being ready to provide input to support patient safety and reliable care.
Effective leaders recognize different behavioral styles and balance concern for people with concern for performance. Leadership is exercised by:
- Fostering a team climate: this is the working relationship that exists in the care environment that facilitates and promotes effective and efficient teamwork.
- Demonstrating mentoring: this is the time-honored tradition of leaders influencing and educating other team members about the values and skills of the healthcare profession.
- Demonstrating professionalism: this is performing duties and responsibilities to the highest standards of the healthcare profession, and reflects a commitment to excellence in all aspects of care and patient duties and performance.
- Managing conflict: this is recognizing and managing disagreements that may be based on information, personality or opinion.
Team members display leadership by inquiring, advocating, and seeking mentorship by recognized leaders and managers. Through practices such as planning ahead to preclude surprises, anticipating requirements, and being ready to provide input to support the team leader are vital for vigilance in today’s complex care environment.
Authority means that there is an individual who is the designated leader and he/she knows what the responsibilities are, what the boundaries of authority and responsibilities include, and exercises authority when appropriate. This includes knowledge and practice of emergency authority, knowledge of team member responsibilities, team supervision, and knowledge of managerial styles.
To be effective in authoritative leadership, individuals should know and be well versed in the following skills and beahviors:
- Responsibilities and authority: This includes knowledge of and familiarity with policies, procedures, regulations. An authoritative leader is responsible for briefing and debriefing procedures, and for the continuous training and improvement of team members.
- Emergency authority: Emergency authority grants a leader the right to deviate from rules and regulations governing operations to protect the safe delivery of care and safe patient and team outcomes. Managers, administrators and fellow team members must be kept informed. It is not intended that a condition become critical before this authority is exercised; however, this behavior is demonstrated only in extraneous circumstances and should not be considered normal operating procedure.
- Team member’s responsibilities: It is the leader’s responsibility to be familiar with all aspects of any assigned operation, project or plan. All team members are expected to report anything that may affect the safety of the team or a patient to the leader.
- Counseling principles: Team counseling is an exchange of ideas, discussions, or the provision of information and direction. In this context, counseling is operationally related, ongoing, unobtrusive and does not extend beyond appropriate boundaries. Counseling should be directed towards the goal of team member improvement, and should therefore be objective, nonjudgmental, informative and focused upon increasing team member knowledge and understanding. Counseling should accentuate the positive, thereby serving as a reinforcement of desirable activities and behaviors.
All team members, but especially leaders and figures of authority, should be conversant with the primary leadership or management functions needed to conduct operations. This understanding allows a common language and frame of reference when discussing behavioral styles, human interaction and conflict resolution.
To be effective in a position of leadership or authority, individuals should be able to:
- Act decisively when needed
- Supervise team duties and performance
- Manage the operational aspects of patient care
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