Leadership Within Nursing Homes


by Jennifer Helfrich-Will

Anyone can be an autocratic leader, you have probably worked with this individual or are working with them now. Their leadership style is portrayed as an ultimate ruler with unlimited authority over others. When ever this leader walks through the nursing home the staff cringe. No thinking outside the box occurs at the autocratic leaders health facility. In fact no one better think of any ideas at all. All intellect will only come from the autocratic leader themselves. Will this health facility flourish? Will the staff look forward to coming to work everyday? Will this facility miss out on the greatest gift of all, the power of human potential? I think so.

Ideas are conceived from individual people not organizational leaders. This is the exact area where a lot of large and small health facility leaders have dropped the ball. Leaders, look at your employees as resources for potential operational ideas, program development and quality practices. Thought provoking ideas and asking "why not" will allow your health facility to grow and flourish.

Twenty-first century leaders are asked to create a work environment that supports innovation and creativity in order to meet customer demands and to prevent problems instead of simply treating them. As a total quality leader invite employee opinions regarding career development, operation and promotions instead of solely relying on your instinct. Leaders focus on facility processes, customer services and relish the opportunity for both public and peer feedback. Our staff and customer's perception of our health facilities are our reality. Embrace the opportunity to explore and understand someone else's perception of your facility operation. If their perception doesn't agree with the facility culture you are working to instill, find out why.

Everyone involved in the facility operations must be on board with this mindset and full accountability of all employee actions must be accepted. By allow your staff to see your vision and commitment to excellence they will want to be a part of your team. When employees were asked which they would rather work for, a company whose desire is to be the best at what they do or a company who just wants to squeak by? The overwhelming employee response was to work for the number one company. Americans are competitive by nature and leaders can capitalize on this concept. By telling your employees we are going to work together on becoming the best healthcare facility in our area. You are inviting them to join your team.

Initially a leader must provide a clear vision and decisive roles to their employees. Sometimes this will result in a change of the "old guard" while you will also change how the facilities employees are judged and rewarded. Begin by looking at the little things involved in leading a healthcare facility. As the leader of the organization do you promote and encourage an optimistic work environment? Smile at your workers, compliment them on their appearance and most importantly always thank them for working with you and caring for the residents.

Optimistic employees will work harder and be in a better mood and experience less physical aliments. Combat helplessness and hopeless within the employee workplace through the art of leading by example. So, what if you have to work a little harder and longer at the facility. This is why you where chosen and accepted the position as the leader of the facility. The end result will be a staff who know the type of care and service their leader expects for their residents and their families. This type of care which provides individual attention to detail and the quality of care which promotes prevention and anticipation of their residents medical and social needs.

While leaders do have frustrations we can't isolate ourselves from our employees. At one time I my management style was one of banishment. If my employee didn't perform in a way in which I agreed with then I made a mental note. A few months later, as I was complaining to my husband who is also a health facility administrator he interrupted me and said, "Jennifer, if you continue this type of management you are not going to have anyone left to work with at the facility." You know what? He was right! While it may be hard managers who desire to become leaders embrace employees individuality and tailor their management approach styles in order to meet facility goals and objectives.

Leadership Check List For Transformation from a Manager to a Leader:

  1. Lead Through Example
  2. Embrace Employee Individuality By Tailoring Management Approach Styles
  3. Ideas Are Conceived By People So Invite Employee Input
  4. Concentrate on Problem Prevention
  5. Invite Public to Express Perception of Facility
  6. Promote Optimism


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About the Author

Jennifer Helfrich-Will, HFA, MSM is President of National Continuing Education Providers which is located in Evansville, Indiana. She has a total of 10 years healthcare operational and management experience in a wide variety of settings including: long-term care, pharmacy, hospital, private practices, home health, Medicare certified out patient clinics and contract services.



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