Organizational Leadership

Susan-SpoelmaSusan Spoelma, MBA, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, DNP (student)

Organizational Leadership

 In my position as chief nurse executive of a hospital I need to directly manage my employees. I say, “The policy in this situation does not allow for that action.” or “If you do X, then the results will be Y, and that’s not acceptable.” This stance is extremely valuable and lets employees know what’s expected and what’s not allowed. But if I just say don’t do X, that’s only half of the equation. What can they do? How can they accomplish their goal differently? The BCI training provided a safe place to practice ways to help my subordinates take the next step, for their growth and development.

 For example, I supervised an employee who was very passionate about his job, and often became so upset in meetings that he started yelling. Others in the organization advised keeping him under control or firing him, but I didn’t want to handle the situation in either way because he was also playing a valuable role. This employee often made constructive points; it was just that due to the way he made them, few people could really hear what he was saying. Some would comment under their breath, tune out, roll their eyes, or think, “There he goes again.” But others were really glad he was speaking out because he often said what others were really feeling, so if I’d asked him to leave or stopped him from sharing his perspective, those opinions would have gone underground and come up in unhealthy ways.

 Because of my coach training, I was better able to help this man reach his goal of expressing himself differently. At first, after I said he could no longer continue to explode, he wasn’t happy and said, “That’s who I am. I can’t do it differently. I don’t even know when I’m going overboard. Well, really I want to change but I don’t know how!” Realizing that his comment was a doorway into change I asked, “How could you be a little more aware of when you were getting too wild?” It took some time but he suggested a secret code between us. If he started moving toward the explode mode, I’d touch my left ear. When he spoke, he would look at me to check for our signal. We had regular conferences about him reaching his goal, and in the beginning, he said that I looked as if I were going to pull my ear off before he finally got it and cooled down. Over time, he became better able to present his position in a way that others could hear. Our meetings were more productive because all the issues could be put on the table in a way that most could heed and respond to.

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