Aim The aim of this commentary is to raise awareness about the apparent lack of formal activities and the paucity of published papers in nursing leadership development at the board level in the United Kingdom (UK). The paper suggests a way forward.
Background The author has been serving at a board level, within and outside of nursing, locally, nationally and internationally since 1988. His current experience as an active board member and honorary treasurer of a leading charity organization in the Southeast of England and participation on a Board Leadership Development programme in the United States of America (USA) led to the need to write this commentary.
Evaluation Leadership at the board level is different because the board is the governing body of an organization. The board has overall responsibility for running the organization. The overall duty is to manage less and LEAD more. The need for this type of leadership is on the increase because these are turbulent days in the healthcare industry. This growing trend witnesses increasing and greater demand from key stakeholders for nursing and healthcare services: rising exposure to liability and litigation; a demand for stronger accountability and questioning of the nature and delivery of nursing and healthcare services. Effective and successful leadership judgment is made based on both numbers [efficient resources utilization (RU)] and stories [effective client/patient satisfaction (CS)].
Conclusions Nurses and others in the healthcare industry need to guide against the leadership myths that: ‘everyone can be a leader’; ‘leaders deliver business (service) results’; ‘people who get to the top are leaders’; and ‘that leaders are great coaches’. This commentary demonstrates these myths could be converted to become realities through developing and possessing most if not all the knowledge, skills and attitudes implicated in the Effective Board Leadership Capabilities Development Profile presented in this paper.
Implications for nursing management and leadership Possessing board level leadership capabilities is significant to nursing management and leadership from three key perspectives: the need for nurses to become ‘recognized’ leaders of the healthcare industry; possessing the knowledge, skills and attitudes relevant for effective board leadership; and the need to use the technology of the 21st century to aspire to an essentially intentionally global nursing community.