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Leadership in Tough Times

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Erin Wells, BSN, RN, CCTC, CPN
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Chicago, IL, USA

"Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs" - Stephen Covey

The recent weeks and months have certainly been a challenging time for many communities around the world. We are being inundated on a daily basis with messages of divisiveness, fear and intolerance. We find ourselves struggling to remain positive and focused as many of us are working with an increasingly culturally diverse and medically complex patient population.

I had an idea for a completely different article topic, but found myself coming back to the quote above and the events that have unfolded in the United States and around the world recently. The make-up of our multidisciplinary teams is reflective of the wonderful diversity we see in our patients. As a nursing leader, I never imagined I would be having the kinds of conversations that I have had the last few weeks in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy. For myself and so many on my team, there was such a profound, initial wave of raw emotion that we were struggling to deal with as we all came back to work on that following Monday. There were thoughtful discussions around free speech vs hate speech, how far we have come in regards to diversity and equality, as well as how far we still have to go. There was also a lot of discussion and some tears around how do you try and explain any of this to our kids.

At its core, I believe that leadership is fundamentally about making people feel valued and appreciated for all that an individual brings to the table. In order for this to occur, people need to know they have a voice and that what they have to say matters. I was incredibly impressed by how open, respectful and supportive everyone was despite how challenging and at times uncomfortable these conversations were to have. It gave me a great deal of hope that these positive ripples can extend beyond our office walls as we all learn together how to stand in our truths more confidently. ■

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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