Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

For all the mothers out there, I hope your Mother’s Day was amazing. Of course, me being me, any holiday always gets me thinking.

On Mother’s Day, I think of how we “parent” as we lead. We all have different parenting styles, as we do leadership styles.

I have heard nursing leaders refer to their nursing staff as their children. I think this can be good if it is in the context that your staff is like family. But I think it can be damaging if you feel you need to “parent” your staff.

Unfortunately, I have seen the latter. I can’t say I know for sure what the motivation is; whether to “save face” as a nurse leader (meaning that you believe that if your staff isn’t perfect, it reflects badly on you) or you are just blind to the fact that everyone is human and will make mistakes.

The issue is, if we do not allow our “children” to learn from their mistakes, there will be negative consequences.

If we let our staff learn and grow from their mistakes, suffering the consequences in a way that will teach them constructively, the mistakes won’t just keep repeating. But when we rescue too quickly and over-indulge our staff with either assistance or blindness, we remove the need for them to learn critical thinking on their own. It’s “parenting” for the short-term and it misses the point of leadership — to equip our staff to problem solve without help. Sooner or later, your staff will get used to someone rescuing them. Face it: You are only hurting them, and your patients/residents.

What is over-parenting? According to an article titled “Why Children of Overprotective Parents Are Slated to Fail in Life,” its sheltering, constant supervision and micromanagement, prevention of taking responsibility, excessive catering and over-consoling, controlling of the social sphere, excessive caution and creating dependency.

If this looks familiar, it mighty be time to adjust your leadership style!

Do you really want your staff to think: “If I screw up, someone will just make excuses for me and remove any consequence”? Because this isn’t even remotely close to how the world works, and it will keep your staff from becoming competent.

So, are you going to be that annoying mom who thinks her kids are perfect, can’t ever be wrong and are always in the teacher’s face if they point out an area that your “kid” can grow in? If you are, STOP IT!

Be a better “parent.” Let your staff know it is OK to fail. Share how you felt when you faced a similar experience, what drove your actions for improvement and the resulting lessons learned. This will make a positive impact.

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.