• Educational reform;
  • interpretive phenomenology;
  • leadership development

PURPOSE.  The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of becoming a nurse faculty leader.

BACKGROUND.  In a recent study of 24 nurse faculty leaders across the United States about their experience of becoming a leader, many of the participants hesitated to call themselves leaders.

METHODS.  This interpretive phenomenological study explored the meaning and significance of nurse faculty leadership. Exemplars of participant leadership development experiences are provided to assist readers in determining how the findings relate to their own practice.

FINDINGS.  The data revealed that leadership emerges as an embodied practice when nurse educators become involved in advancing reform. Practical leadership strategies for advancing reform in nursing education are presented.

CONCLUSION.  Leadership is learned through three everyday practices of advancing reform in nursing education: being involved with others; struggling to serve as a symbol and preserve authenticity; and creating an environment for change. This study offers new insight on leadership development, with practical implications for how leadership is taught in nursing curriculum and how nurses can more effectively own leadership roles.