18 October 2016

Diversity dynamics, defensive routines, and the quest for positive organizations

For the last several years, I have had the privilege and honor of serving on the National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program. In that capacity, I especially enjoyed serving on the Executive Diversity Committee. Over the years, I had the opportunity to work with male and other minority scholars in the program. We often had discussions about issues of diversity and inclusion related to being a member of a minority and under-represented group in academic nursing.

For example, minority women scholars noted that, because of their minority status, they are frequently invited to participate on numerous committees and task forces and that such inclusion added to their workload. Male scholars discussed negative stereotypes and microaggressions they experienced. These stereotypes were reflected in questions about intelligence, sexual orientation, communication styles, preferential treatment, privilege, compensation, and inattention to issues of power and feminine politics. Knowledge gained and lessons learned sensitized the Executive Diversity Committee and the scholars to stereotype threat, microaggressions, defensive routines, and the challenges of creating and sustaining positive cultures.

Rawpixel Ltd./iStock

Through dialogue and interaction with the RWJF scholars, we defined a number of diversity issues as complementary pairs (Kelso & Engstrom, 2006) and coined the term “diversity dynamics” to define these issues. (Refer to my post, “The squiggle sense and the complementary nature of nursing” for additional information.) Diversity dynamics are intrapersonal factors (culture, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and religion) and interpersonal factors (organizational tensions, differing perspectives, and conflict) that influence organizational culture. Through discussions with the scholars, we came to conceptualize diversity issues and essential organizational tensions associated with these issues as polarities to manage.

For example, discussions about diversity and inclusion ought to concurrently consider issues of exclusion and sameness. Reflect on other tensions involved in framing and reframing diversity discussions. The tilde or “squiggle” in the following pairs is used to indicate their complementary relationship: Sameness ~ difference; homogeneous ~ heterogeneous; individual ~ collective; fairness ~ discrimination; visible ~ invisible; ignore ~ recognize; majority ~ minority; express ~ repress; deny ~ acknowledge, surface ~ deep; separate ~ attach; variety ~ likeness; disparity ~ parity; competitive ~ ambitious; privileged ~ advantaged; dominating ~ threatening; defensive ~ offensive; outsiders ~ insiders; aggressive ~ insensitive; analytical ~ emotional; and action ~ process oriented.

What other essential tensions or diversity dynamics have you witnessed, observed, or experienced in your organization? What would you add to the list? Realization of the dynamics associated with the social-justice challenges of diversity will not be resolved until their complementary natures are consciously acknowledged and evaluated.

Diversity dynamics contribute to stereotype threats and defensive routines. Defensive routines are patterns of interpersonal interactions people create to protect themselves from embarrassment and threat. These routines reveal disconnects between espoused theories and theories actually in use.

In positive organizations, people are valued regardless of status. They work toward the greater good, contribute talents, feel confidence, seek growth, express their authentic voices, expand roles to seek new opportunities, build social networks, nurture high-quality connections, embrace feedback, and exceed expectations as members of the organization learn and flourish.

To help organizations reflect and manage essential tensions, Quinn describes what positive organizations look like (Quinn, 2015). Becoming a positive organization requires paying attention to the essential tensions that are part of organizational life. To create positive organizational cultures, people need to become conscious of diversity dynamics, minimize stereotype threat, avoid microaggressions, practice overcoming defensive routines (Noonan, 2007), and support development of high-quality connections.

How will you use your leadership influence to explore diversity dynamics in your organization and, in so doing, contribute to the creation of a positive organizational culture where you work?

Kelso, S., & Engstrom, D. (2006). The complementary   nature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Noonan, W. R. (2007). Discussing the undiscussable: A guide to overcoming defensive routines in the workplace. John Wiley & Sons.

Quinn, R. (2015). The positive organization: Breaking free from conventional cultures, constraints, and beliefs. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.

16 June 2016

Governance as leadership: What organizations want from board members

For the past several years, I have had the opportunity to be a faculty member of the Board Leadership Institute (BLI), sponsored by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. During my presentation at the institute, I share principles I’ve learned over time from my experience on boards and with organizations. Successful leadership of an organization depends on board members being knowledgeable about their core values and potential contributions to the organization. Mastery of fundamental knowledge and characteristics expected of a board is central, therefore, to effective board membership.

Below are some of the concepts and principles I share and discuss at the Board Leadership Institute together with resources and references you can use to develop your own knowledge base about what organizations want from board members. During the course of my BLI presentation, I advise attendees to:
  • Be intentional about their board leadership aspirations. Understand governance as leadership.
  • Know the wisdom of contributions based on talents, strengths, and values.
  • Master skills associated with change and transformation, futures literacy, levels of perspective, polarities, and competing values.
  • Understand the power of alignment and logical levels of learning and leadership.
  • Know the basic responsibilities of board work and how to be an effective and ethical board member.
  • Be clear about the importance of expectations related to fundraising, philanthropy, fiduciary responsibility, and return on investments.
  • Commit to being a team player by developing resilience and through personal and professional renewal.
A place at the table? BLI is
an excellent place to prepare.

Basically, the 10 responsibilities of nonprofit boards are to: 1) determine the organization’s mission and purpose, 2) select the chief executive officer, 3) provide proper financial oversight, 4) ensure adequate resources, 5) ensure legal and ethical integrity, and maintain accountability, 6) ensure effective organizational planning, 7) recruit and orient new board members, and assess board performance, 8) enhance the organization’s public standing, 9) determine, monitor, and strengthen the organization’s programs and services, and 10) support the chief executive and assess his or her performance.

Richard Chait and his colleagues, William Ryan and Barbara Taylor, observe that effective boards attend to the following variables. They pay attention to the context and culture of the organization, while discerning needs of members and stakeholders. They build a sense of community and inclusiveness among members, and they value education and development among themselves and members of the organization. Effective boards cultivate future leadership and build community. They possess analytic skills that help discern relationships among the complexities of competing issues. They value differences of opinion and seek out information that helps them in their deliberations. Effective boards are politically sensitive, and they communicate and attend to needs of all stakeholders. Effective boards are strategic rather than bound up in the day-to-day operations of the organization.

If you are eager to learn more about board leadership, consider attending the Board Leadership Institute scheduled for 18-19 August in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. If you are unable to attend, check out the variety of learning resources available that provide information and guidance regarding organizational governance of for-profit and nonprofit boards. Resources I especially like are available through an organization called BoardSource. Also, read Nurse on Board: Planning Your Path to the Board Room. Authored by the late Connie Curran, EdD, RN, FAAN, the book was recently published by Sigma Theta Tau International.
Join the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International for the Board Leadership Institute! The program will be held all day on Thursday, 18 August, and end midday on Friday, 19 August. Register by 8 July to receive the Early Bird rate of US $599!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.

08 March 2016

Nursing informatics, data science, and health analytics

What are your beliefs and values about the significance and meaning of nursing informatics as it relates to data science and health analytics? To what degree do you value the role of nursing informatics and technology as they relate to the future of nursing knowledge work and transformation of our current health care systems?

For several years, I have been fascinated by work in the area of nursing informatics. I am especially interested in the evolution and development of standardized terminologies related to nursing interventions and outcomes, as they support effective clinical reasoning and contribute to development of nursing research and knowledge work.

Peter Howell/iStock
A number of pioneering thought leaders in both practice and academic settings have advanced the vision and mission of developing nursing knowledge through the creation, application, development, and evaluation of nursing informatics. In spite of the scholarship, research, and developments in this area, I believe many nurses have yet to fully appreciate the value, impact, and consequences that nursing informatics and technology play in regard to advances in data science and health analytics. I believe all nurses ought to develop a philosophy and take a stance on the value of nursing informatics for professional nursing practice and the care of people.

As we evolve toward the fourth paradigm of data-intensive scientific discovery, it is evident that advances in nursing informatics and data science will influence the way nurses provide care, conduct research, and create nursing-sensitive health analytics that support strategic planning, analysis, and transformation of the current health care enterprise.

Last June I had the opportunity to facilitate a national conference—Nursing Knowledge: 2015 Big Data Science—where many nursing informatics leaders shared works, gained insights, and created visions for the future to advance a national agenda regarding nursing knowledge and data science. As you explore the proceedings of this conference, which of the work groups and future agendas do you find of interest?

Nurses who invest time learning more about nursing informatics, data science, and health analytics will play a key role in discovering knowledge in data we have collected over and through time. Nurses are well positioned to take the lead in creating and using big data to discover the nursing care patterns and trends that have had the most impact.

If you are not familiar with contemporary trends and issues in nursing informatics, take some time to discover the Alliance for Nursing Informatics home page or explore resources from the TIGER Initiative. Consider learning more from nursing informatics pioneers, and reflect on your professional stance in regard to the impact and influence that nursing informatics can have on the care of individuals, groups, and communities. The evolution and development of professional nursing knowledge into the future will be accelerated through mastery of nursing informatics knowledge, skills, and abilities.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.