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Senior nursing leadership – capacity building at the global level


  • P. Blaney RN, BSC (HONS), LLM

    Corresponding author
    1. Director, All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care, Education and Research Centre, Our Lady's Hospice, Dublin, Ireland
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  • At time of writing Blaney was ICN Nurse Consultant: Nursing and Health Policy and facilitator of GNLI. She moved to her present post in May 2011.

Paddie Blaney, All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care, Education and Research Centre, Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin 6w, Ireland; Tel: 0035314912948; Mobile: 00353870995875; E-mail:


BLANEY P. (2012) Senior nursing leadership – capacity building at the global level. International Nursing Review59, 40–47

Background:  The International Council of Nurses (ICN) and its member National Nurses Associations have for some time recognized the need and potential for a global level leadership development opportunity for senior and executive level nurses. Through ICN's international health policy influencing activities and experience in the delivery of national and national association leadership development programmes, the need for more senior level global leadership development was increasingly evident. Various national and international studies and reports have also echoed the need for nurse leadership.

Aim:  In response to this need, ICN established the Global Nursing Leadership Institute (GNLI), an annual leadership development programme for nurses at senior and executive levels from across the globe. A number of strategic outcomes that might be achieved from attending a GNLI programme were identified and used to secure funding support for the initiative. These were that participants would be better equipped to build strategic alliances, be aware of their own leadership capacity, increase global healthcare knowledge, be better equipped to influence policy, improve strategic planning and thinking, be able to take on higher leadership roles and develop international networks.

Process:  A high-level advisory committee oversaw the design and development of the annual leadership development programme and undertook the selection of participants. The first GNLI was established in September 2009. The GNLI programme was delivered in English and was held at venues near Geneva in Switzerland. This article refers to the design, format and broad outcomes of GNLI 2009 and GNLI 2010 including the strategic objectives, funding arrangements, action-learning approach, participant selection and profile, development needs analysis, programme elements and design, learning environment and evaluation.

Outcomes:  The resultant GNLI experience is unique in terms of senior nursing development opportunities available globally. GNLI is specifically unique in the diversity of participants; senior and executive level nurses from different countries representing all world regions and all levels of income and all settings and sectors. GNLI is also unique in its ability to provide participants with the leadership development opportunity within the international context and proximity to various international health-related agencies. This article refers to the first two GNLI programmes that have resulted in 60 GNLI graduates who continue to develop leadership capacity and utilize networks formed while attending the GNLI.

ICN has secured funding to continue the GNLI initiative for a further 3–4 years, and so GNLI will continue to build global nurse leadership at the strategic level.