Fostering Exceptional Nursing Leadership


Leadership is not always a title, it is an action.

Approximately 4,000 oncology nurses attended this year’s 44th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Congress. The energy was so high that you could feel the excitement in the air as soon as you landed in California. Oncology nurses traveled from across the globe to learn about new oncology data to help bridge the gap between research and practice; novel drug combinations including adverse event management; integrative medicine; and topics on leadership to reflect on a few sessions that I attended.

“Let’s Grow Together and Transform Care” was the perfect theme for the Fostering Exceptional Leadership in Oncology Nursing session, which I co-led alongside, Ashley Leak Bryant, PhD, RN-BC, OCN and AnnieMarie Walton, PhD, MPH, RN, OCN, CHES. This session was well attended as many oncology nurses were seeking guidance on their leadership journeys. Many questions were raised regarding how we got started; how to become a mentor; and existing leadership opportunities (to name a few). We focused on the importance of being self-aware and seizing the opportunity. Leadership is not always a title, it is an action. The Oncology Nursing Society Leadership Competencies were developed by oncology nurses and divides these core competencies into five domains: vision, knowledge, interpersonal effectiveness, systems thinking, and personal mastery.1 In our presentation, we were able to incorporate all five domains.

Dr. Bryant shared with the audience, “Create and transform your leadership path by investing, inspiring and mentoring others to build oncology nursing leadership capacity.”2 Through utilizing your resources for continual leadership learning to promote individual growth and enable impactful leadership succession planning, Dr. Walton focused on the importance of your, “network being your net worth.”2 Through poignant wisdom, diversity and modeled behavior, I spoke about the importance of diversity in leadership. “Diversity is a key component to fostering exceptional leadership. The term diverse not only encompasses one’s gender, race or ethnicity, it is inclusive of other thoughts, perspectives, and more importantly respect of others.” 2

The diversity within our backgrounds brought a unique perspective to this session; however, the one commonality that we all shared was how we started. We all started from small opportunities such as, volunteering and local chapter involvement; leadership does not have an elevator to success, it is accomplished by one taking small steps and giving yourself permission to succeed.


  • Day DD, Hand MW, Jones AR, Harrington NK, Best R, LeFebvre KB. The Oncology Nursing Society Leadership Competency project: developing a road map to professional excellence. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2014 Aug;18(4):432-6. doi: 10.1188/14.CJON.432-436
  • Bryant A, Walton A, Smith M. 2019. Fostering Exceptional Leadership in Oncology Nursing. Podium Presentation at: Oncology Nursing Society 44th Annual April 11-14, 2019; Anaheim, California

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