Great leaders are not born. Natural-born leaders only refers to the inclination to lead. Being a natural-born leader means that you have the charisma and the drive to be at the forefront of whatever you do, and that is it. Every effective, great leader has to learn and develop their leadership style and capabilities. You cannot lead if you do not know how to succeed, and that is the difference.
It is great news for those that are not naturally charismatic or natural leaders because it means you can still learn and improve and be an effective leader in your field regardless. Being a leader does take a certain type of person, yes, but even visionaries need to improve their leadership capabilities in order to make a difference.
If you are interested in transitioning into leadership in your field, it can feel difficult to know where to start, especially if you are in a field like nursing, where formal qualifications mean a lot more than other sectors. This guide will help you understand what you need to do, what your options are, and how you can finally secure those leadership positions once and for all.
Understand What Knowledge and Skills You Are Missing
Being a leader means you need to understand the situation. Only when you have a firm understanding of multiple different factors can you make effective decisions. This is one of the biggest differences between specialists and those that lead them.
For example, if you work as an APRN or RN, you may lead a team and be very good at it, but that managerial experience will not be enough to prepare you to become a Director of Nursing at a hospital. You will need business experience, accounting experience, and so much more.
The knowledge you will need for these roles will differ from role to role as well. This is true, particularly in large, complex systems like the health sector. While a DNP degree might fit some roles, for example, earning a nursing leadership degree online might be a better fit for your personal goals and for the role that you want to apply for.
The best way to understand what knowledge and skills you are missing is to find your dream jobs and explore the qualification requirements. Keep a note of these requirements and start to strategize how you personally will get to where you need to be, whether through a degree or work experience.
Ask and Chase Down Opportunities
One of the most important things when it comes to progressing through any career is that you need to be vocal about your goals. People need to see you actively chasing down chances to do more. It is that drive and that passion that really stand out to others.
While some roles are locked more than others, there are always chances to stand out and to take the next step. If you are in a sector like nursing, for example, you can show your commitment to transitioning into leadership before you earn a degree by going out of your way to train and help others. Showing a commitment to ongoing learning and even seeing if someone who is in a leadership role you want will mentor you is another great option.
Network and Learn
There are two tasks a leader can never stop. The first is networking. Even in more strict sectors like nursing, networking plays a huge part, particularly once you start looking towards executive-level positions. There are, at the end of the day, fewer leadership roles. By networking and getting your name out there with the right people, you can build a reputation that precedes you.
There are many fun ways to network and improve your reputation. Today you can even go and become an influencer and see so many doors open up as marketing, at the end of the day, is always going to be a skill that leaders need to have. Other ways to network are by being active online on job sites like LinkedIn, going to events and conferences, and of course, volunteering.
If you can learn while you network, then you have managed to hit two birds with one stone. Every leader needs to commit to a lifetime of learning, particularly those in fast-paced sectors like health. Imagine a nurse leader that did not take the time to learn about telehealth. Instead of embracing and transitioning their team for this coming future, they will essentially make themselves and their team obsolete.
Ongoing learning can mean formal education opportunities and informal ones. Staying up to date with the news and new ideas in leadership in your sector can do so much to make your workplace better for everyone.
Just Go For It
If you have most of the qualifications, then simply apply for the job. Keep applying to the roles that you want, especially in smaller or lesser-known places of employment. This way, you can get experience in the role you want, even if it isn’t necessarily the dream job you envisioned for yourself. Every move forward is a step closer, so don’t hold out for your resume to be perfect or for the perfect job to fall into your lap. Discover is just as important as getting out there, so start applying.
Focus on the Type of Leader You Want to Be
Being a leader means many different things. In nursing, for example, you can be a leader of a small team and still have a very patient-first focus, or you can have a top-down role that has you manage an entire department. Both types of leaders are valuable and laudable, so don’t allow anyone to skew what you want out of your future.
At the end of the day, your dream job is yours and yours alone. If you want to help improve patient outcomes for a specific condition or for those from a specific background and want to lead a team that will do just that, then this is a wonderful dream. If you want to work in policy-making in order to improve working conditions for nurses in your state or the entire country, this is also a wonderful dream.
Your interests, your goals, and what you are passionate about the matter. Keep that in mind when you are pushing for leadership positions, and don’t let outside influence sway you when you know in your heart what you want out of your career.