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Staff nurse perceptions on the influence of a formal leadership development program on their first-line nurse leaders Encinger, Jana


Aim: To build on previous British Columbia Nursing Leadership Institute (BC NLI) evaluative research by analyzing the perceptions of staff nurses and identifying whether they have seen any behavior differences in their first-line leaders during the one year period following their leaders’ participation in a formal leadership development program. Background: The healthcare system is absorbed with many demands and complexities that are challenging every aspect of the system. To be able to shift away from the current path, the system requires committed and effective nurse leaders that play a fundamental role in healthcare and its necessary system transformations. To assist nurses to become effective leaders it is essential that organizations recognize the role of structured leadership development education, such as the BC NLI, in shaping nurse leaders who have the potential to impact patient, workplace, staff, and organization outcomes. The BC NLI is a collaborative initiative designed to support first-line nurse leaders by employing an empowerment framework. Methods: Staff nurses working with first-line nurse leaders who attended the BC NLI between 2008–2009 were included in one of ten focus group sessions that took place one year after their leaders took part in the institute. A qualitative approach of inductive thematic analysis was utilized to conduct a secondary analysis of the staff focus group data and derive code categories and themes. Results: The BC NLI focus group participants showed support for their first-line leaders. They recognized that leaders face many organizational challenges, possess transformational and transactional qualities, and play a key role in the workplace environment. The importance of organizational support and formal leadership development education were identified as key parts of the leaders’ leadership development. Participants reinforced their support for leadership development education, such as the BC NLI, by attributing their leaders’ growth to their participation in the programme. However, some BC NLI focus group participants also expressed their hesitation regarding the possibility of external factors, such as prior experience, having possible influence on leadership development. Conclusion: This study provides evidence that formal leadership development, such as the BC NLI, is vital for the development of first-line nurse leaders.

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