Purpose: To develop an interpretation of Australian nurse leaders’ understandings and experiences of mentorship for nurse leadership. The study aimed to explore experiential meanings and understandings that Australian nurse leaders apply to their mentoring relationships; determine whether mentoring relationships contribute to nurse leader development in Australia; and identify how Australian nurse leaders conceptualize mentorship.
Design: Hermeneutic phenomenology provided the methodological framework for the study. A purposive sample of 13 Australian nurse leaders was interviewed so they could share subjective experiences of mentorship through conversational narrative. Interview transcripts were analyzed to uncover and isolate key aspects of the phenomenon in text. An adaptation of Radnitzky's hermeneutic circle was used to develop a hermeneutic meaning interpretation of the text.
Findings: The lived experience of mentorship for nurse leadership was understood and described through three existential motifs: imagination, journey, and mode of being. This article specifically addresses the finding that mentorship for leadership was sustained by the mentor's mode of being. These nurse leaders were not formally prepared to be mentors; rather, they grew into being mentors as a result of their life journeys.
Conclusions: The nurse leaders possessed a life attitude of mentorship that impacted how they perceived and interacted with their world. Mentorship was not formally learned, nor was it enacted as an adjunct role. Being a mentor was a fully integrated aspect of their person.
Clinical Relevance: Nurse-leaders use mentorship to grow and develop leadership potential in other nurses. Formal preparation to be a mentor is not fundamental to all mentorship. Some nurse leaders who mentor others for leadership grow into being mentors as a result of lifelong subjective experiences.