Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

I was watching a sermon on raising your children in today’s age and found myself completely intrigued. The pastor was talking about two different styles of patenting which kind of made me think of leadership styles.

The two parenting styles are probably familiar to all of us. The first one is where the parent sugarcoats everything and doesn’t really discipline. You’ll recognize these kids as the ones who have to have a “participation” trophy; who are running wild in restaurants because Mom doesn’t want to embarrass the child in public by calling them out; or the kid who’s destroying the house while Mom says she doesn’t want to hamper the child’s creativity.

This child knows no discipline. Everything they do is right, perfect and encouraged.  The problem is, when the kid turns 18, he or she will suffer from a disease known as “relationship diabetes.” They won’t know how to deal with the real world, bosses who have expectations, or boyfriends or girlfriends who have expectations of this person. Yup, because their life was sugarcoated, they will never manage in the “real” world.

Then you’ve got the Brussels sprout kids. These poor kids have known nothing but discipline. These parents reared with the stick, never the carrot. Despite trying their best, they never feel accepted. They never feel like they are good enough. Their spirits are destroyed before adulthood, destroying with it all aspects of creativity, sense of self and ability to feel comfortable contributing. Comfort comes from taking orders. They suffer from “relational sludge.”

The thing is, we need a bit of both in order to mature in a healthy way. Brussels sprouts may not taste that great when we are immature, but they are good for us. By the same token, a bit of sugar — a reward, an acknowledgment, acceptance for who we are — is necessary for healthy maturation.

So how in the world does this apply to our profession? Because we are leaders. We need to give our staff both dessert and the vegetables.

In my long career, I have seen leaders who are just plain afraid to discipline their staff. They make wild excuses like, “Well, if I discipline them, they will ALL quit.” Really, in all my years and all my networking I can honestly say neither I nor my colleagues have ever seen that happen. Discipline, if done in a way that is healthy (like Brussels sprouts), and not demeaning, is good for growth. A learning opportunity. We need to know what we need to do to be better at what we do. (That makes sense in my head, honestly!)

And that sugar is just as important. Meaningful praise for a job well done, for amazing teamwork, for just fixing Mrs. Smith’s hair in a way that made Mrs. Smith feels great about herself. That is necessary to feel accepted, purposeful, and comfortable contributing.

So, find your balance: dessert and veggies, and you’ll be the leader we all need!

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.