Allison was a great nurse. The best nurse at her hospital. She loved her job and her patients and, in return, they loved her and regularly wrote to the hospital about how great their stay was and how much Allison had helped them. The supervisory position for her unit came up and there was no question who would fill it. Allison happily accepted the promotion and looked forward to many more great years. Yet within 6 months her unit was in complete disorder. The unit hated her and each other, the patients were complaining and Allison was devastated. She now hated coming to work, dealing with the backbiting and constant demands from her unit and worst of all she had no idea how to make it better and no hope that she ever would. So how did this happen? How does the best of the best turn into the worst of the worst? Why doesn’t the best engineer or the best firefighter or the best nurse make the best leader? And what about experience? Does longevity mean you’ll make a better leader? Does experience count? Well, the answer is maybe. I know, not really a strong, assertive answer but it’s because the skills required are so different. Being in any job requires a certain skill set and leadership is no different. While the skills are attainable by most, they are many, and require education and much practical application. So now you're in charge of a promotion to leadership. Are you going to promote by experience? Who’s most liked or who you like the most? The best test taker? How about you take a look at the skills required for the position and interview the candidates based on what you require from your leadership? By all means, test them on the managerial aspects of the job like: Do they know the requirements? Can they fill out the forms and do all the paperwork required? Please don’t neglect what pays off for organizations where leadership is concerned: The ability to build relationships, resolve conflicts, motivate, build and grow teams and individuals, hold people accountable and move organizations forward in a positive manner. Ask them their experience in areas, what they believe is the best way to accomplish those sort of tasks, and why they feel that way. You will find that candidates will separate themselves more easily for you when you are asking the kind of questions that require problem solving answers and thoughtful discourse on what leadership really is. The real litmus test for organizations is the ability to early on identify those individuals that are working toward the skills required to make their way up in your organization and who are willing to get the education necessary and practice the practical skills needed to eventually make that transition to being able to lead your personnel and grow your organization. So look for them, offer them educational opportunities, give them projects that require them to build a team to accomplish those projects and structure your promotions to what it is that you require of your people that are in leadership positions. It will make the promotional process easier and maybe most importantly, you will be able to explain to those who fell short this time, exactly why they did not make the position this time and what it is they will need to do to make a run at it again in the future.
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