Practices of Reflective Leaders: Facing Challenges and Advancing Reform

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 4:40 PM

Sara Horton-Deutsch, PhD, MS, BSN, RN, ANEF, FAAN
College of Nursing, University of Colorado-Denver, Aurora, CO, USA

This presentation describes the common shared experiences of becoming a nurse faculty leader through facing challenges and advancing reform. These experiences were common for many nurse leaders as they sought to advance their careers by taking on new positions and responsibilities. These themes along with several sub-themes will be explored through description and story. Finally, participants will be asked to reflect on their own experiences of facing challenges and advancing reform.

 One common experience of participants was facing challenges. Reflecting, persevering through difficulties, and learning to relate to others in new ways represent how nurse faculty faced challenges while becoming a leader. Engaging in self-discovery through reflection was effective practices that lead to self- and other-awareness and more caring relational interactions where people were open to learning from one another and consider ways to make the greatest impact. In addition, listening attentively was an effective practice for cultivating a deeper dialogue and understanding while vicariously building relationships. Practices of reflecting and persevering while facing challenges lead to a transformation where leaders ultimately learned to relate to others in new ways.  These practices supported leadership development by facilitating self-exploration, thoughtful interactions with self and others, and values clarification.

Another common experience of participants was advancing reform. A number of intentional practices favorably supported leadership development for advancing reform. Being involved with others cultivated relationships and generated energy in discovering new and unconventional ways for nurse educators and practitioners to work together. During this process of being involved with others, leaders discovered the importance of remaining authentic or true to their core values and beliefs. In addition, reform was additionally supported by the leadership practice of creating environments for change. This involved cultivating climates receptive to fresh ideas and innovative approaches, and then adopting change in small, manageable steps.

Stories of how nurse leaders faced challenges and advanced reform through earnest engagement with others will be threaded throughout this presentation. Implications of these practices will be considered. Finally, questions to facilitate participants’ reflection on their own leadership practices will be offered as a way to highlight the value of reflection as an intentional strategy for leadership development.