Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Does Etiquette have to do with Nursing Leadership?

Guest post from Kathleen Pagana:

Anyone committed to career advancement faces the challenge of interacting well in business and social settings. By using the guiding principles of kindness, consideration and commonsense, professional etiquette can help you initiate new relationships and enhance established ones. Etiquette is about relationships.  It can guide you in unfamiliar situations and help you know what to expect from others.

Let’s use a sports analogy. Suppose you want to join the volleyball league at your medical center. If you know the rules and know how to play the game, you could be an asset to the team. Likewise, in the workplace, etiquette makes you a welcome addition to a leadership team. It increases your confidence in dealing with all levels of colleagues by leveling the playing field.  Many business programs have recognized the importance of business etiquette and have included it as part of their educational requirements.  Although nursing education has focused on leadership and management, etiquette has been the missing link for success in the workplace.

Over a long career in nursing, I have often been challenged by business etiquette concerns in positions, such as patient care manager, military officer, faculty member, academic dean, and board member at a healthcare system. Professional etiquette has helped me handle these challenges.  Let’s discuss five situations where etiquette can help you target your leadership potential.

1.     Making introductions

You may wonder if it matters who is introduced to whom in an introduction. Yes, it does.  There is a pecking order to introductions. The person of honor is mentioned first, and the other person is introduced to him or her. The higher-ranking person is the person of honor.  For example, suppose a new graduate is being introduced to the nursing supervisor. The supervisor is mentioned first and the new nurse is introduced or presented to him or her. 
Suppose you need to introduce Mike Smith (new graduate) to Theresa Deska (supervisor).  Here is an example of a proper introduction: “Theresa, I would like to present Mike Smith.  Mike is a new graduate from Lycoming College. Theresa Deska is our surgical supervisor.

 2.     Shaking Hands
Did you know you are judged by the quality of your handshake? You want to present a confident, firm handshake. Those few seconds can weaken or empower a relationship. Be sure to stand up, make eye contact, and smile. 
If someone ignores your attempt to shake hands, gently drop your hand to your side.  There are cultural and religious preferences that affect a handshake. For example, in the Hindu culture, contact between men and women is avoided, and men do not shake hands with women.

3.     Remembering names

It means a lot to people to hear their name. People are impressed when you remember their name. However, many people have trouble remembering names.  Here are some tips to help:
·         Listen and focus when you hear the name.

·         Repeat the person’s name. For example, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Margaret.”

·         Connect the name to something or someone. For example, “I have a daughter named Theresa and she spells her name like you.”

·         Ask the person a question about the name?  For example, “Do you spell Kathleen with a C or a K?”

·         Look at the person’s nametag.  his will help you remember the name and know how to spell it.

·         Write down the name or ask for a business card.

·         Ask the person for a helpful way to remember how to pronounce the name. For example, when people ask me how to pronounce Pagana, I tell them to think of the word “banana.”  Then say, “Pah-gann-a” like “bah-nann-a.”

 4.     Presenting business cards
Every leader needs business cards for networking. You can attach a business card to a report or note. This lets the person know you are the sender and provides your contact information. 
Cards should be presented with the content face up and readable.  The receiver should be able to glance at the card and make a comment. For example, “I see you are the nurse manager of surgical services.” Make sure the card you give is in good condition. Don’t use a card if it is soiled, bent, or ripped, because it will not portray a positive impression of you. 

5.     Mingling at receptions and cocktail parties

Your career aspirations can be enhanced or limited by your behavior as you navigate these potentially disastrous social gatherings. Inappropriate behavior can undo years of good impressions.
Attending work-related receptions shows you are a team player and gives you a chance to get to know co-workers in a less formal setting. Here are some guidelines for presenting yourself in a professional manner:

·         Smile and be friendly to everyone.

·         Introduce yourself to people you don’t know.

·         Avoid clustering in small groups with people in your department.

·         Spend more time listening than talking.

·         Minimize “shop talk” during social gatherings.

·         Be sure to greet senior management. Use engaging small talk.

·         If you don’t call people by their first names at work, don’t start at the social event.

·         Treat the serving staff with respect.

·         Drink responsibly.

·         Avoid messy foods. Keep your hands clean for shaking hands.

·         Be aware of your body language. Don’t act bored.

·         Thank your hosts before leaving.
Everyone can and should learn some basic business etiquette. The better you become at it, the more you will be sought after for opportunities and positions. These tips can help you handle awkward and challenging situations that could diminish your confidence, tarnish your reputation, and derail your career aspirations.

Author bio: Kathleen D. Pagana, PhD is the author of “The Nurse’s Etiquette Advantage: How Professional Etiquette Can Advance Your Nursing Career.”  She is a best-selling author of almost 2 million books with translations in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Chinese, Greek, and Polish.  She is also a dynamic keynote speaker who motivates professionals to reach their goals though presentations on leadership, business etiquette, and life balance.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Innovation Begins (and remains) at the Top

Guest post By John Sweeney:

Innovation is foundational to business leadership. We empower individuals across disciplines to evaluate, orchestrate, strategize, create and hire, but most importantly, we empower others to innovate. Many leaders may consider empowerment a handoff – a simple process of delegating work. For the most process-oriented tasks, that assumption may be true. But for innovation, responsibility begins and remains at the highest levels of leadership.
Empowering innovation begins with our everyday behavior, outlook, commitment and openness to new thinking. Just as leaders deliver big picture messages and strategy, we also set the tone for how organizations innovate. However, we forget about everyday behavior, because it is so basic that even the big thinkers—the super smart innovation architects—often assume that everyday behavior will automatically change once a great system is in place.

The maxim “everything looks like a nail to a hammer” is an excellent reminder that every successful innovation effort relies on the people—and all their fears, emotions, and humanness—who must fuel it.
Innovation is fundamentally about people; their assumptions, subconscious thought patterns, daily actions and habits. Taken together with all the other trappings of business management — procedures, rewards and penalties, social dynamics, unspoken rules and, of course, stress—it’s easy to see how innovation yields a wonderfully messy, organic and complex environment. Above all, behavior drives results, and if leaders fail to address daily behavior, even the greatest strategies and plans to drive innovation are doomed to fail.

A managerial culture that strives for efficiency, leanness, speed and quality above all else is often in conflict with a culture of innovation, which must make room for experimentation, learning from mistakes and unexpected connections through exploration.

Here are six tips that leaders can implement to help create and foster a business environment that not only welcomes, but also thrives on innovation:

1. Your behavior matters.
As the leader of a company your behavior is amplified and seen as the true north to how things are done in the company. Your words do not matter, if you behave contrary to them!

2. Your words do matter when they are aligned with your actions.
Language is a powerful tool to rally and unify people – especially around innovation. Choose sticky language, use it, help people make it their own to align and inspire people to embrace an innovative mindset and innovation behaviors.

3. Strive to decrease status.
Be human, real and authentic to encourage participation in innovation activities and initiatives.

4. Show up!
Be present and supportive for all innovation related events and initiatives. Being engaged sends the message that innovation is important and worthwhile of your time, which means it is important and worthwhile for the people who you lead.

5. Be bold in your behavioral declaration.
Create a behavioral manifesto or credo. Publicly state that you will personally strive to uphold the behaviors you have stated in the credo.

6. Frequently ask others to evaluate, metric and assess your behavior based on your declaration.
Invite constructive criticism to demonstrate your desire for continuous improvement and a willingness to change – two key elements of innovation.

We all know that how we function in a team, communicate and collaborate with others is the key to successful innovation, and there’s no better place to start than at the top. An innovative mindset reevaluates the nature of innovation and shows how a change in perspective can lead to more dynamic, successful endeavors.

John Sweeney is the co-owner and executive producer of the Brave New Workshop, America’s oldest satirical comedy theatre. He uses his 20+ years of improvisational performance, speaking and training to influence human behavior and to create simple but groundbreaking tools that have ignited cultures of innovative behavior within such companies as Microsoft, PWC, General Mills and UnitedHealthGroup. His new book (with Elena Imaretska) – The Innovative Mindset: 5 Behaviors for Accelerating Breakthroughs – is available now from Wiley. Visit to find a bookseller near you.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Anyone Can Train Themselves to be a Highly Effective Leader

Guest post from Chris Hutchinson:

If you’ve gotten past the title without choking on your warm office beverage of choice, you’re probably thinking something like:
1. Are you kidding? You’ve clearly never met [colleague/boss/archenemy]!

2. Don’t think so. People either have natural leadership ability or they don’t. If you don’t have the right wiring, it doesn’t matter.
3. Look, I’ve tried hard and made progress, but I can point to any number of areas where I wouldn’t consider myself “highly effective.”

4. Hmmm…really?
I’ve worked with thousands of leaders over the past twenty-five years. Based on that experience, I firmly believe almost anyone* can become a highly effective leader. Regardless of default leadership abilities – the combination of natural wiring and how someone was parented/taught/led up to now – everyone can get better as a leader. It just takes the right mindset and tools. (* rare exceptions for people with serious mental wellness problems. And no, I’m not talking about your last boss.)

 To be a highly effective leader, you’ll need both an internal drive - the mindset - and an external framework – the tools - for results.
The internal drive is made up of three action-oriented conditions:

·    A deep desire for better results. If you cannot picture any difference between where you are and where you want to be, nothing will change.  (Hint: this difference is usually easier to see a few years out rather than today. By picturing how a change will affect what you care about most in, say, five years, you can usually find the energy to start changing now.)

·     A willingness to learn and change your own behavior. If you can experiment with doing things differently and then be open to feedback, you can get better. Perhaps it’s human nature to try to avoid making mistakes, yet I’ve always found the lessons I learn from making mistakes define me more than when I “get lucky” and succeed the first time.

·     A bias for action. Despite millions of health books and videos sold each year in the United States, public health data show obesity steadily increasing. It’s clearly not enough just to know how to do things – you must get into action and apply your thinking to get results.
Without these, there’s no point in embarking on leadership improvement. I used to think that these three conditions were all leaders needed. However, over the past decade I‘ve discovered to become truly effective leaders, people also need:

 A comprehensive and practical framework for leadership that works in the real world.
Without an overarching framework, many leaders end up trying different techniques. These techniques can often conflict with each other.  And without a clear and consistent set of coordinated actions, leaders find themselves treating symptoms, not finding and solving the root causes.

I wrote Ripple: A Field Guide for Leadership That Works to provide my clients – and you – that comprehensive framework. It starts with self-leadership (knowing yourself deeply and getting into action as a leader), moves through interpersonal leadership (how you respect and enable others to succeed), and finishes at organizational leadership (how you design and tweak the system to enable effective results efficiently).
Most people in leadership positions start working on efficiency (results!) in the organization first. When that doesn’t work, they backtrack to effectiveness (let’s reorg), then to positively enabling others (ah, you need the right resources to do the work), and then to respecting others (silly me, I didn’t realize you have different talents than mine).

If these efforts still aren’t working, things get uncomfortable. If we’re honest with ourselves, we start asking: “As a leader, am I in action about what matters? And if not, could it be that I don’t understand myself enough to get out of my own way?”
It begins with you

From my experience, you will get the best results by starting with yourself, then learn to work well with others, and together you can optimize your organization. All we need to do to kick off this positive chain reaction is to change ourselves.
Relatively simple, yet as Marshall Goldsmith says, changing behavior is one of the most difficult things for adults to do. Why? As adult humans, we believe we are highly competent and effective. We often wrap our self-esteem around this perception of competence. To get better, we have to admit that, in some way, we’re not as competent as we thought.  Yet, we can only admit that if we make it through denial and confusion – our internal barriers that keep us in our place of comfort and known competence – first.
The good news is that with the right mindset and level of willingness, along with some hard work and an overarching structure that works, you too can hurdle your own barriers and train yourself to be a highly effective leader.

 So – what are you waiting for?

About Chris Hutchinson:
Chris Hutchinson has invested the last 25 years working with organizations and leaders to help them reach their full potential. He founded his company – Trebuchet Group – in 2002 to help business leaders tap the abilities of their whole organization to get where they want to go quicker and less painfully.

Chris is an international speaker and published author of Ripple: A Field Manual for Leadership that Works. His experiences in the military and the business world taught him great leadership can be learned, and everyone is in some way a leader.
Chris has a passion for helping people grow and be their best. Clients and peers describe him as an inspirational catalyst for positive change. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Brave Leadership

Guest post from Darrin Murriner:

Most people would agree that good leaders are brave leaders. But our definition of brave may vary widely. For some bravery could mean facing a tough personnel decision or making investment decisions to enter a new market.

And while those decisions can often be brave, I contend that the highest form of bravery in an organizational context is keeping at bay the opposite of bravery; fear.

In our business organizations fear has a growing influence. This can be seen in our capital allocation decisions, how we react to competitors and how engaged our employees are in the mission of the organization that you are leading.

To be a truly great leader you must tackle the three primary areas that fear can influence your organization and prevent your business from realizing increased returns and long-term value creation.

 1. The Cultural Core. I represent this strong cultural core through several key elements including the development of trust, breaking through organizational hierarchies, being willing to take risks or even fail, finding employees that are the right cultural fit and supporting their individuality, and finally, by developing great communication. Building a strong core lays the foundation for the next two areas.

2. External Factors. It is important to avoid the pull to react to the competition, regulation and risk & control functions, but rather, focus on getting out in front of these three areas. This requires staying close to the customer and anticipating where the market is going. You can limit the influence these factors have by leaning into the cultural core.

3. Improve Decision Making. Good decision making from a place of strength in your organizational identity keeps you from getting distracted by concerns around possible legal land mines or the possibility of negative media exposure. Good decision making allows the brave leader to go from good to great.

I would love to go into each of these areas in more detail, but this is a blog post and I spent eleven chapters on these in my book, Corporate Bravery.

But the reason why these factors matter is because fear has a way of creeping into your culture little by little through small decisions that are made every day by managers with influence within your organization.

That may seem overwhelming since leaders often struggle with the balance between micromanaging the details and supporting and empowering their managers towards improved performance. But it is achievable, and it starts with great leadership.

For that reason, the selection process for managers must be rigorous and ensure the full alignment of organizational values, management competencies and performance management to protect the cultural core from trending negatively over time.

Too often leaders are derailed by fears that influence their decisions and create cracks for fear to root itself in the cultural fabric of their organization. It can start out small but will eventually have an outsized influence on every area of business performance. Great leadership values bravery over fear and fights to protect culture from fear’s polluting influence.

About the author:
To learn more about Darrin Murriner or this topic you can read more at If you are interested in reading Corporate Bravery, the book is available on Amazon ( & iTunes.