Learning to Lead – Lessons from Nurses

If you’ve ever wanted to know what leadership looks like, you simply need to look to a nurse, and not just today during this pandemic. Nurses have been leading the whole time, in ways many of us have taken for granted. This crisis has put a spotlight on all they do for the world. It’s put faces to all of the nurses who make our world better every day. It’s created a platform for their stories.

Want to learn more about leadership? Look to a nurse…

Nurses show up. That’s where leadership begins – you can’t lead if you don’t show up. When the call came out that people needed help, nurses were some of the first to step forward and answer. They raised their hands and said, “Yes, me. I can help.” It’s what they’ve always done… every time we’ve walked through our hospitals and clinics, they’ve been there.

Nurses are brave. There’s a difference between being fearless and brave. Talk to any nurse today, on the frontlines of COVID or at your local clinic, and they are carrying some fear. Being brave and courageous means stepping up in the face of your fears, and when nurses walk through the doors to start their shift, that’s what they’re doing.

Nurses care. In hospitals and at our clinics, nurses have always been there for us, a source of comfort and calm. When we’re hurt or ill, they’ve been the ones who tell us it’s going to be OK. When we need to get bandaged up, they do it with empathy and grace. When we’re getting a check-up, they meet us with a smile.

Nurses serve. When you’re a patient in the hospital, your relationship with your nurses is very one-sided. Lying in a hospital bed, your nurse is going to give you more than you can ever give back in return. Whatever you need, they’re going to provide, because that’s what they do. They’re nurses.

Nurses sacrifice. Today, nurses end their shifts with sores on their faces from wearing masks all day, and they take those sores home to their families. The work they do sometimes means they need to maintain distance from their own children and their significant others. Every day, nurses forfeit their rights and privileges for others.

The most impactful realization of all of this? Nurses lead and serve for strangers. They’re not risking their health and being brave for people they love… they’re doing it for people like you and me that they’ve never met before. Yes, over time, we build relationships with them, like nurse Lori who has cared for our children since they were babies. But even with that in mind, we started as just another patient walking through the clinic doors. We were strangers, and they cared first.

Nurses are an example of authentic leadership, providing powerful lessons for all of us.


Thank a nurse. Let them know how much you appreciate them. Do something kind for them. Whatever you do, don’t let their caring and sacrifice go unnoticed…

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