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Analyzing a Leader
Jack Arnold and Haley VanWormer
Ferris State University

Analyzing a Leader
A leader is an individual who others see a quality in that draws them to follow.
When choosing this person, we look for qualities of strength, knowledge, motivation, and ability
to communicate effectively. One form of a leader is a manager. As a manager, many other
responsibilities fall under your scope of control. To investigate more into what this role entails
and how one maintains these responsibilities, an interview was conducted with the manager of
the orthopedic/progressive unit on two-south at Spectrum Healths Butterworth Campus,
Amanda Bourdon. Amanda got her start on the unit as a volunteer when she was in high-school.
Upon graduation, she was offered a position as a nursing aide. While working as an aide,

Amanda attended college and received her bachelorette of nursing degree from Grand Valley

University and transitioned into the registered nurse role on the same unit. She also has attained
her orthopedic nursing certification. After continuing her work on 2 south, she advanced her
career to charge nurse, then nursing supervisor, and finally manager. Amanda has spent all of her
14 years at Spectrum Health on her current unit, so it is understandable when she refers to it as
her baby.
Role and Responsibilities
As a manager of a Spectrum Health medical unit, the individual must agree to 24-hour
accountability. This means Amanda carries a pager with her at all times and must be available
when called regardless of time. Some other major responsibilities include fiscal management of
nursing staff, policy and procedure development, unit based goal setting, standards of care
development, performance improvement, and employee recruitment and retention. The
organizational structure which Amanda falls under is called a functional structure. A functional
structure is common in health care and comprises units providing similar care falling under a
common director or executive (Yoder-Wise, 2014). This is evidenced by Amanda reporting to
director who oversees several other units and the director reporting to the chief executive nurse.
Staff members who report to Amanda include: nursing aides, unit secretaries, unit aides, and
registered nurses, all from her unit. Her major role as manager is creation of policy to deal with
events experienced on the unit. An example of this was the implementation of a bowel protocol
which oversees patients last bowel movements and implements strategies to deal with
constipation. Another example is the no pass rule, this rule deals with call light times. No team
member is allowed to pass a call light without answering it unless they are involved in a priority

situation. This minimizes patient wait times and increases patient satisfaction. Amanda is

always sure to be involved in the role out of a new idea and makes sure to lead by example.
In an organization as big as Spectrum Health, communication is mandatory among
disciplines and staff. Amanda uses an open door policy which allows staff to communicate any
ideas or concerns they may have about the unit or issues they may have with other staff. Some
of the toughest communication she has to deal with is the ones she refers to as crucial
conversations. Crucial conversations can take place between co-workers or between
management and staff. These conversations typically involve strong emotions, have high stakes
and generally involve a difference of opinion (Major, Abderrahman, & Sweeney, 2013). This
type of communication is designed to resolve differences following a set of steps to achieve a
resolution to the incident. Amanda says she does not need to use them often, but when she does
they work as designed.
Other areas where communication is critical is when new policies are rolled out. Every
staff member needs to be educated and demonstrate understanding of them in order for the roll
out to be successful. Amanda said communication in large groups is one of the professional
skills that she has developed over her years that have helped her out the most in her managerial
Knowledge of Health Care Environment
Knowledge of your environment is critical when working in health care. Amandas
knowledge has come from working her way up and learning each position she manages over
hands on. Knowledge of the health care environment is more than just knowing the positions. It
is using evidence based research to advance the nursing practice and increase patient satisfaction

rates. Haughom (2015) stated three reasons why knowledge management is important in

healthcare. First, it facilitates decision-making capabilities, second, it builds learning

organizations by making learning routine, and third, it stimulates cultural change and innovation.
Amanda utilizes an approach similar to these steps because when she is attempting to facilitate a
change, she requires evidence-based research first to support the proposal. By requiring this
evidence it facilitates the learning process by examining multiple proven methods and allowing
her to discard what has been disproven. By making change based on evidence and knowledge,
Amandas patients benefit by receiving the most current care methods facilitating a better more
healing health care environment. Her proof was the implementation of a fall protocol for
patients that had been researched. Her staff uses proven fall prevention methods and available
staff runs to bed and chair alarms when signaled. Her proof was a reduction in falls on her unit
since the program was rolled out.
American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) has listed five categories of key
concepts that categorizes someone as having great leadership skills. Bourbon demonstrates many
of theses concepts. One of the many characteristics that come to mind is the ability to address
ideas and concerns that should be addressed (20011, p.5). Bourbons unit help to implement a
new policy on call lights. The policy consists of everyone taking responsibility for every call
light on the floor. When a call light rings, the first person to pass the room is responsible to
answer the patients needs, then let the patients nurse know the patients need. Bourbon had a
great role in implementing this policy. This has decreased the amount of time call lights ring as
well as decreased the amount of time it takes for patients to get their needs met. The staff
members on the floor also appreciate this policy. With the entire staff working as a team to help

take care of patients needs it decreases the work load on each individual nurse. This is just one
example of how Bourbon has utilized one of the many skills needed to be a good leader.
As a leader, professionalism is an important part to the role. There are six categories that
fall under the AONE section of professionalism. These categories include personal and
professional accountability, career planning, ethics, evidence-based clinical and management
practice, advocacy, and active membership in professional organizations (2011, p.5). During the
interview with Bourbon we addressed all of these categories. One area that is very important is
the category of ethics. In the profession of nursing it is very common to encounter ethical
dilemmas. When her staff is faced with an ethical problems she does all she can to help them
through the problem. She tries to help them feel at ease. There is also an ethical committee on the
unit that is responsible for helping with ethical dilemmas.
Another way Bourbon demonstrates the professional skills needed as a leader is by
holding herself and staff accountable for their actions. She explained the three strike system she
holds her staff accountable to. When the question of professional corrective action comes to call,
each staff member has the right to two incidences in a years time. If a third incidence occurs it
will be cause for termination. Bourbon states she holds all staff members to the policy. It helps to
hold everyone on the unit accountable for their actions.
Business Skills
A professional leader must also possess appropriate business skills. A few ways Bourbon
utilizes this skill is by using corrective action to manage workplace environment, creating
opportunities to include employees in decision-making processes, and by managing performance
through rewards and recognition. When implementing change on the unit, Bourbon is sure to

include the staff in the process. One way she does this is by incorporating different staff led

committees such as shared leadership and many more. She also stated it was important for both
the patients satisfactions scores as well as staff satisfaction scores to reflect equally well. During
the interview Bourbon stated, if you have happy and satisfied staff members, their work will
reflect that, which will in turn result in patient satisfaction. According to the AONE document,
this is a significant part to a leader with adequate business skills.

With the completion of an interview with the nursing manager of 2-south at Spectrum

Healths Butterworth campus many characteristics of a quality leader were analyzed. These
characteristics include communication skills, knowledge of the healthcare system, leadership
skills, professionalism, and adequate business skills. Amanda Bourbon possessed all of these
qualities. She is focused on supporting her staff as well as increasing patient satisfaction. She has
never worked anywhere else and states she feels like 2-south is her second home. Though she is
new the position, she has done an excellent job of transitioning into the position and is sure to
remain in the position for many years to come. References
Haughom, J. (2015). Knowledge Management in Healthcare: Its More Important Than You
Realize. Health Catalyst. Retrieved from https://www.healthcatalyst.com/enableknowledge-management-in-healthcare
Major, K., Abderrahman, E. A., & Sweeney, J. I. (2013, April). Crucial Conversations in the
Workplace. American Journal of Nursing, 113(4), 66-70.
Yoder-Wise, P. S. (2014). Leading and Managing in Nursing (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.