Nurse Leader Development for a New Age

It’s about investing in current and future nurse leaders


By Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC


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The need for great leadership in healthcare has always been imperative; however, throughout the industry’s recent transformation, it’s been vital. Faced with enormous amounts of change, today’s leaders must be capable of serving their teams, while adapting to the evolving landscape and leading us into the future.

For the nursing profession, the immense need for great leadership really came forward in 2010, with the release of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The IOM report deemed leadership so important in healthcare transformation that it was listed as one of the report’s four key messages and was tied to two report recommendations:

  • To expand opportunities for nurses to lead and diffuse collaborative improvement efforts.
  • To prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health.

For the past 8 years, more so than ever before, nursing organizations across the country have been aiming to implement strategies and programs that not only continue to develop current nurse leaders, but also invest in the purposeful development of future leaders.

A history of leadership development

Leadership development has always been a strong suit of Cleveland Clinic health system. Throughout our organization, we have numerous opportunities for current and up-and-coming leaders to hone their skills and garner insightful information.

We offer online leadership learning modules, courses, recommended conferences and events, and specialized leadership development programs. Cleveland Clinic’s Global Leadership and Learning Institute (GLLI) offers a rich portfolio of opportunities that address leadership development at various levels within the organization, including an innovative, experiential lead-forward program for high-potential leadership candidates.

Additionally, two years ago, Cleveland Clinic introduced four expected leader behaviors, which leaders are to demonstrate daily:

  • I foster teamwork and believe in the power of every one of us, united.
  • I develop myself and others, as I know the strength of the individual is the strength of the group.
  • I demonstrate character and integrity, as I believe in authentic leadership.
  • I lead through change, as I am a brave agent of continually improving healthcare.


Investing in nurse leaders

Cleveland Clinic’s nurse leaders can and do participate in all of the Cleveland Clinic health system leadership development offerings. However, nursing is a dynamic profession that requires certain leader traits and characteristics specific to nurse leader positions. Thus, our Office of Nursing Education and Professional Development has created several programs and courses that are specifically designed to guide current and up-and-coming nurse leaders through the leadership development process.

For a number of years, for example, we have provided offerings such as:

  • Lead the Supercharge. For nursing operations managers, charge nurses and assistant nurse managers. Focuses on developing skills in delegation, leading and managing teams, and professional communication at the unit level.
  • Basic Strategies for New Nurse Leaders. Introduces nurse managers and assistant nurse managers to the Cleveland Clinic culture and develops targeted skills and behaviors essential to management and leadership success in finance, human resources, quality and safety, and risk management. Emphasizes concepts such as coaching, building accountability and change management.
  • MAGNUS. A three-month professional enrichment experience for clinical nurses. The Latin word, MAGNUS, which means “great” and “important” was selected to convey the scholarship that is required to explore the contradictions in healthcare, the meaning of purpose and complexities in building relationships. It provides a unique opportunity for clinical nurses to participate in rich and thought-provoking discussions centered on uncovering each participant’s leadership potential.


Additionally, we provide many opportunities for one-on-one mentoring through shadowing experiences, coaching sessions, etc. Twice a year, we offer a highly unique event that encourages and inspires bedside nurses through stories and advice from other experienced nurse leaders.

And, at the beginning of 2018, Cleveland Clinic launched its first-ever Executive Nurse Fellowship, in collaboration with Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, FNAP, Elizabeth Brooks Ford Professor of Nursing, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University.

The fellowship delivers highly customized professional development curriculum that covers everything from financial skills and performance metrics to legislative policy, social capital and communication strategies. It’s a five-day immersion experience in which fellows successfully utilize real-world healthcare issues to expand their knowledge and enhance their ability to create, influence and drive outcomes and organizational change. Participants garner insight on leadership strategies and competencies designed to help them quickly analyze, respond and lead. They learn how to create high-impact relationships. They are empowered to take a closer look at the difference nursing can make in healthcare. And they learn their own leadership strengths, while enhancing their leadership journeys.


Succeed today and tomorrow

There are many ways nursing organizations can invest in ongoing leadership development – and it’s extremely important that they do so to succeed both today and tomorrow.

If you are looking for new leadership development ideas, recommendations and suggestions, feel free to reach out to The Stanley Shalom Zielony Institute for Nursing Excellence. Additionally, one of the best professional resources available today is the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, which offers a number of studies, toolkits, webinars and other materials, that address the IOM’s call to promote nurse leadership.

Kelly Hancock is the Executive Chief Nursing Officer of the Cleveland Clinic Health System, and Chief Nursing Officer of Cleveland Clinic Main Campus.

Follow Kelly on Twitter at @kkellyhancock.


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