Do you have what it takes to be a leader in nursing education: attributes of leaders and barriers to leadership

Monday, 18 November 2013: 3:15 PM

Anne Marie Krouse, PhD, MBA, RN-BC
Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA
Barbara J. Patterson, PhD, RN, ANEF
School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA

Learning Objective 1: Discuss the attributes of learners in nursing education.

Learning Objective 2: Discuss the barriers to effective leadership in nursing education.

Background: A healthy academic work environment requires good leadership.  Unfortunately, not all individuals in leadership roles in nursing education are effective leaders. Little has been reported in the literature about the characteristics that are essential to be an effective leader in nursing education.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the essential attributes of leaders in nursing education. The barriers to leadership were also explored.

Methods: The research design was qualitative description.  Fifteen leaders in nursing education were interviewed.  Data were analyzed using an inductive approach combined with an iterative reflective process.  Trustworthiness was established through an audit trail and member checks.

Results: Two categories of attributes emerged from the data; individual characteristics and behavioral attributes. Individual characteristics include hard-working, persistent, ethical, visionary, credible, analytical, resilient, confident, and passionate. Behavioral attributes include risk taking, leading from behind, thoughtful decision-making, self-reflection, building relationships, communicating effectively, respecting others, financial stewardship, influencing others, caring for oneself, infusing and encouraging innovation, trusting others, and being a citizen of the university. Barriers included a lack of preparation for leadership, the demands of leadership roles, cultural and environmental factors, financial, and factors related to individuals in current leadership positions.

Conclusions: Leaders in nursing education face multiple challenges in roles. It is essential that future leaders understand the elements of leadership that contribute to the achievement of organizational goals and creation and maintenance of an optimal academic environment.