Some nurses and caregivers are hesitant to be nurse leaders. They are reluctant to be in charge and manage the nursing station or a particular department. The mere thought of leading a group and delivering life-changing decisions can be frightening. Hence, they create various excuses just to avoid it. 

True, being a leader is not an easy thing to do. But realizing your fears will help you cope with the challenges better. To address this issue, we need to identify and understand the different factors that hold nurses back from taking the lead role of managing other nurses. 

  1. Confidence – Confidence and fear of failure goes hand in hand. If you are afraid of committing mistakes, you will most likely avoid responsibilities. Fear of failure keeps you from pursing something. You come up with all sorts of excuses like, “I do not have the skills required” or “Nobody will respect me.” Constantly avoiding tasks will ultimately damage your confidence level.
  2. Decision-Making – Fear of failure results in a fear of making decisions on behalf of others. You do not want to commit mistakes through your decisions. You are afraid that your colleagues will blame you if something goes wrong. You fear how people will constantly judge you through your decisions. You care too much of what others think of you.
  3. Conflict – Most people are afraid of dealing with conflict. Some even avoid it at all costs. However, nurse leaders will always have to deal with conflict. In every situation, there will always be two or more people disagreeing on things. It is the nurse leader’s duty to handle conflict in a positive way and provide opportunities for growth. The way we perceive conflict defines how we are able to manage it. If you had a terrible or frightening experience of dealing with conflict, chances are you will anticipate disagreements to end so badly. Hence, you will let others handle the situation for you. You would rather go to work silently, accomplish your nursing shift and avoiding trouble all the way.
  4. Risk – Fear of taking risks defines how you try to avoid situations that have the tendency to become destructive or will make you look foolish. You are afraid to make the wrong move because you do not want others to laugh at you. You are afraid to speak up whenever the management comes up with some absurd viewpoint. You would rather be the silent, non-participating employee rather than making a stand or voicing out your concerns.
  5. Communication - Communication in nursing is crucial. It can be a complicated process. Sending and receiving the wrong message can result in life-threatening mistakes. Fear to commit mistakes will hinder your ability to communicate properly. Leadership in nursing tells us that we need to enhance or improve our communication skills so we can delegate tasks properly and lead others.

Failure to overcome these fears would mean lost golden opportunities to advance your nursing career.

If you worry too much on what will happen next whenever you take on challenges and responsibilities, just think back to when you were just starting as a nursing student and as a new nurse. You are exposed to a lot of risks, conflicts and other challenges that required your confidence, your ability to decide on things and your communication skills. With diligence and perseverance, you were able to survive and go beyond expectations. That is why you are now here faced with a lot of opportunities for growth.

A leader is made, not born, as they say. So heed the challenges of leadership and achieve greater heights. If you are determined to succeed and face all your fears, you can be a great nurse leader.