Seasons of Change for Nurse Leaders


Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. During this season you can see the beautiful colors of orange, yellow, and crimson as the leaves change. You get to wrap up in a cozy blanket at night as the temperature gets cooler. You also start cooking cool weather foods like chili and chicken pot pie…yummy! These wonderful things bring about a sense of calmness to me.

Times of change don’t always bring calm and comfort, especially if you, as a nurse leader are responsible for driving that change. Often change in the workplace is perceived as negative, intrusive, and unwelcomed.

How can we as nurse leaders foster an environment where change is appealing, met with enthusiasm, and genuinely seen as the right thing to do?

How do we convey a sense of urgency for the change?

And, what can we do to encourage others during times of change?

Leaders are change makers. When you are called to lead, you are called to advance, move forward, and improve the situation. Shared below are a few key strategies for leading change effectively and building a team culture for future success in your next season of change.

Demonstration in making good decisions in ambiguous conditions as a nurse leader will help establish a culture of trust and reliability. Communication and pursuit of a clear vision will set the stage for your team’s focus during change.

Once you master the first 2 strategies, you then clearly articulate a clear need for change; some good reason to give up the status quo. You describe who or what will be impacted by the change. In order to lead your team, you need to capture their head, heart and behaviors needed for change. This can be started by addressing “What’s in It for Me” and furthering the conversation by connecting to their passion and desire to make a difference.

Sometimes change is directed from the executive level. How you make it move forward is left to you and your team. Obtain group participation by leaving the details to the people who must implement the change. Provide concise, reliable information to the implementers and deliver frequent communication during the change and progress to the shared outcome.

Demonstrate authenticity by ‘walking the walk’ and ‘talking the talk’. Build effective working relationships while making full use of each person’s abilities. Finally, during implementation of change/evaluating progress/sustainability – continue active participation – project a never done attitude; be in position to notice, recognize, reinforce and coach.

YOU are making a difference in healthcare. Continue to lead, learn and grow!