The Origin of a Nurse Leader


Nurse leaders gathered to share innovative ideas to enhance the oncology nursing profession at this year’s Oncology Nursing Society Chapter Leadership Workshop, held in Pittsburgh from July 20-22.

Are leaders born or made? There is a lot of debate about this topic; however, the literature shows that both statements are true.

Leadership capability falls along a bell curve. At the top of the curve, you have about 10% of leaders who were born to lead. These leaders tend to get better as time progresses. Then you have about 10 to 15% at the bottom of the curve, and no matter how hard they try, they will never be good leaders. Lastly, in the middle, sits the majority of individuals who possess the traits and potential to become good leaders—their talents are just waiting to be nurtured into great leaders.1

This past weekend, phenomenal nurse leaders gathered in Pittsburgh to attend this year’s Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Chapter Leadership Workshop, ready and willing to share innovative ideas to enhance the oncology nursing profession. The energy in the room was contagious!

The audience varied from novice nurses to nursing pioneers. The common thread that held everyone together was the need to continue to focus on the sustainability of the oncology nursing profession.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the conversation around engaging millennials. We know that millennials are the future of nursing so learning what motivates them is crucial. Millennials want 5 key things from their employers:

  • make them feel nurtured and provide leadership opportunities
  • share their values
  • have a vision and positive impact
  • believe people come before profit
  • provide more than just a good salary

Recognition and engagement were also buzz words that arose from this past weekend’s sessions. As a leader within ONS, it is my responsibility to understand the factors that motivate members to remain engaged and determine the successes and failures of the organization, and take the necessary actions to correct them. It is also my responsibility to cultivate the next generation of leaders through a well-defined vision, while instilling confidence and building trusting relationships.

I believe that as a leader, you should strive to be the person you would follow. Words to live by from this past weekend that everyone should practice: Remember to recognize your peers. After all, recognition is free!


Bishop V, ed. Leadership for Nursing and Allied Health Care Professionals. United Kingdom: McGraw Hill Education; 2009.

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