Don't let your passion for purpose burn out your employees

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Here is the next in our series of blogs talking about our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) statement, which we launched earlier this year. In this blog, we hear from Debbie Preston, FNF’s Head of Nursing and Midwifery Leadership and Scholarships, who talks about finding passion and purpose and not letting the two affect your wellbeing.

“Whilst both are familiar concepts, finding passion and purpose in a role and balancing the two can be a challenge to our wellbeing.  It’s no surprise that nurses are often clear on their rationale for why they chose the profession, like Florence, most felt a sense of purpose or duty to help and care for others. But as we progress into leadership roles, maintaining that passion for purpose can come at a cost. 

A quick Google search on passion will provide you with several definitions, which confirm that when we are passionate about what we do, we are more motivated and driven to achieve. This increased level of engagement sparks our creativity and drive for success.

This increased drive and enthusiasm to achieve can be contagious and lift a team to success, but as leaders we also need to me mindful of our behaviours and cues to ensure that wellbeing of the team is not impacted. Being more focused on the task or outcome means we are also less likely to notice when boundaries are being pushed, and our enthusiasm to succeed and encourage our team members to go above and beyond becomes unrealistic and results in unwanted consequences. 

When faced with clinical emergencies like a cardiac arrest, senior nurse leaders maintain a pragmatic approach to patient care delivery and remain focused on achieving the best possible outcomes. However, they also ensure the wellbeing of the team; articulating expectations with clear role allocation from the onset, rotating those performing chest compressions to maintain quality and efficiency of care delivery. Prioritising each team members energy and focus to ensure the best possible care delivery. Good leaders will also follow up with debriefing and learning points following these high-pressure events, again ensuring team wellbeing and resilience is maintained.

As nurse leaders both in and away from the clinical setting we need to remember these principles when we are driven to achieve. If these leadership behaviours can be maintained during high pressure clinical situations, then we can surely apply the same level of diligence to our daily working. We all have different motivations for doing the role we do, and our levels of passion will fluctuate. Whilst we have a collective goal to achieve, the intensity and camaraderie required for intense activity is likely to fluctuate. However, as authentic and conscientious leaders, we need to be consistent and aware of this when leading our teams. We must be mindful of our communication, clear when delegating and task allocating, maintain appropriate boundaries and time spent on delivery to avoid fatigue and overwhelming ourselves and our people.  

If we allow ourselves and our teams to work beyond their optimum, and role model negative leadership behaviours, like working beyond our hours, skipping breaks and increasing the pressure/intensity of the working environment, we will not only impact the passion and commitment of our employees, but this also has a knock on impact to their families. 

Retention is a large concern for our profession and an individualised approach to leadership is required to keep our teams in position and working well. Flexibility around working patterns, appropriate selection of tasks and good oversight of workload is important. 

Meaningful acknowledgement of work achieved, and success, will motive employees, but honesty and transparency in communication demonstrates a level of trust and respect for one team, which will in turn booster commitment and understanding when they are required to work at a higher intensity.

With the above in mind I feel strongly that we should be challenging each other as leaders to regularly evaluate our leadership and performance, ask ourselves when is good, good enough? What is the real priority here and what can we pause to release time to deliver the emerging priorities.

When we are passionate and motivated with a strong sense of purpose, we are able to achieve great things, but we cannot do this without great teams to support us.

Our priority as those in charge, is to take care of those in our charge, and to do that we need, to be self-aware and challenge ourselves.

Take a big step back and remember the wellbeing of those around us, and ensure we are supporting a working environment in which we all can shine.”

You can read FNF’s Environmental, Social and Governance Statement here.