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How Can The LEADS Framework Help Your Career In Nursing?

Healthcare workers have seen the greatest demands and challenges in their jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s taught us that nurses have been, and continue to be, an essential part of our healthcare system. Without their leadership and compassion, we might have seen a very different outcome of the pandemic. 

In Canada, the LEADS in a Caring Environment (LEADS) Framework advances the future of healthcare leadership and provides a development structure designed to benefit both individuals and organizations. The framework also encompasses the current best practice guidelines for Developing and Sustaining Nursing Leadership by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).

At The Chang School, our Certificate in Nursing and Interprofessional Healthcare Leadership and Management uses the LEADS Framework to help healthcare workers acquire additional training and expertise to help them advance in their career and acquire a formal leadership role. If you’re working in healthcare and looking to take your career to the next level, you need to become more familiar with LEADS. In this article we highlight the benefits of leadership in chaotic systems, succession planning in healthcare, and how the courses within the certificate provide you with ways to specialize and hone in on the skills you’ve learned. 

Leadership in Chaotic Systems

A crisis situation, as exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, forces healthcare workers into chaotic systems, where leaders need to act quickly and decisively in response to these situations. Within the LEADS Framework, this would be demonstrated by system transformation, where leaders demonstrate critical thinking and set direction to improve the current climate of the organization. 

As a healthcare worker implementing skills within the LEADS framework, you will gain strategies to be a prepared leader with the ability to identify challenges and create solutions in dire situations. In other words — you will acquire the skills needed to initiate positive change in your organization. Without such leadership, healthcare organizations risk the quality of care for its patients, and miscommunication and frustration amongst its workers. In a recent series of studies on leadership during the pandemic, Ryerson nursing researchers found that transformational leadership skills were key to ”safeguarding both staff and patients, and inspiring staff to provide complex patient care” (Bookey-Bassett & Purdy, 2021). This and other leadership theories are taught as part of the ‘Leading Self’ dimension of the LEADS framework.

The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized this need for prepared leaders in healthcare and also the support needed to foster this development in others, such as succession planning. 

Succession Planning 

Being a healthcare professional means working in a constantly collaborative environment with the intention to provide quality care while also being a champion of your self-development and supporting the development of others. Without collaboration, organizations may find themselves fostering unsatisfactory work environments, which could result in low employee retention or morale, eventually leading to poor performance, and ultimately impacting the quality of care. The LEADS Framework aims to mitigate these issues by emphasizing a structure to “Engage Others.” 

The purpose of succession planning is to nurture a leadership environment amongst workers, so that in the event of a promotion or an emergency, organizations have a quality pool of candidates to create a smooth transition. As a leader, if you’re engaged in succession planning, you may find natural progression and advancement in your career as you have the ability to communicate with others effectively, promote a healthy work environment, and collaborate to achieve results. For example, when taking your certificate at The Chang School, you may consider Conflict Resolution in Community Services as an elective. This course helps nursing and healthcare professionals develop consensus-building strategies in order to come up with conclusions everyone is in agreement with, making for a great leadership strategy. 

When organizations have succession planning built into their organizational structure, this promotes an environment for self-motivated leaders and an ability to achieve results aligned with its mission and values. 

Self-Motivated Leaders 

In a 2018 study, 100% of advanced practice nurses said that leadership is expected as part of their role. Leadership, no matter how far in your nursing career, has proven itself to be one of the most consistent traits among healthcare professionals. The foremost structure in the LEADS Framework is to “Lead Self” — an emphasis on being a self-motivated leader. However, what does it really mean to be a self-motivated leader in a healthcare setting? 

The core courses in our certificate program, Advanced Leadership and Management and Change and Innovation, offer methodologies, knowledge, and skills alongside theories and concepts to delve deeper into becoming a leader in healthcare. These core competencies are built through the LEADS Framework to develop your self-awareness so that you are better able to plan and lead change. In addition to these core courses, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from electives that support your professional goals and development. If you are a healthcare professional working in long-term care for example, you might consider Gerontology: Critical Issues and Future Trends, as the course focuses on the trends and research in community services for the elderly. 

By asserting yourself as a self-motivated leader through continuous learning, you provide yourself with the knowledge and tools to advance your career. Continuous learning also gives  you the confidence to help you reach your career goals, knowing you’re ready to take on new challenges. After completing the change project within the final capstone course, graduates have noted that they (and their new skill set) are more visible to leaders within their organization and are more often ‘tapped on the shoulder’ for leadership roles and initiatives that arise. 

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The LEADS in a Caring Environment Framework has shown itself to be a prominent leadership structure for nursing professionals across Canada. Even as the healthcare industry adapts to the world’s demands and changes, this framework continues to evolve alongside it — proving to be a worthwhile frame of reference for healthcare professionals to develop and advance in their careers.