AORN Blog - The Periop Life

Advance Your OR Leadership Trajectory in 2020

January 5, 2020    

New leaders are often not adequately prepared for the pressures of OR leadership. Unfortunately, on-the-job learning is the ineffective norm in today’s busy, complex surgical environment.

Jamie Ridout, MSN, MBA, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, CASC, administrator at Capital City Surgery Center in Raleigh, NC, sees firsthand the struggles that emerging leaders experience.

“There can be a gross lack of leadership training for emerging leaders across perioperative practice,” Ridout says. “Often, emerging leaders are left unprepared and must learn through the course of time and through the mistakes they have made.”

While she says all leaders should be okay with not knowing what they don’t know, this lack of training prior to stepping into a leadership role can quickly erode the confidence of new managers—especially in situations where they are being asked to lead the same staff they once worked alongside.

“Staff can put pressure on leaders, especially new leaders, to the point of it feeling harassing or bullying and new leaders may lack the skills, confidence, and resiliency needed to persevere through these pressures,” she notes. “It’s a tough place to be if the right support structure is not in place for that leader, or, the leader lacks the self-awareness and emotional control to manage themselves through these difficult situations.”

Get Comfortable with Self-Assessment
Take ownership of your own learning and knowledge gaps to become an effective leader, Ridout advises new nurse leaders. Doing this involves deciding what kind of leader you aspire to be and then educating yourself on how to develop into that type of leader. 

“You need to be honest with yourself about the things you do well and the things you do not do well as a leader… maybe it’s your ability to communicate, the tone in your voice, or your ability to do the right thing under pressure.”

In this process, she says a mentor is essential: “You need honest feedback you are willing to accept and can use to your advantage without getting hurt feelings or wanting to give up.”

When she is looking for someone to fill a leadership role in her practice setting, Ridout seeks a nurse who has a passion for leadership, has the ability to lead, and is someone who has a desire to develop people and carry the mission forward, not just gain a title.  Clinical competency does not necessarily equate to great leadership ability, she adds. “Leadership is really a self-sacrificing role that requires focused self-awareness to be your best and inspire others to do the same.”

Get more leadership strategies for the emerging leader in Ridout’s education session,  Leadership Tools for the Emerging Leader on Tuesday, March 31 at 8am during AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo in Anaheim, CA.


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