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Confessions Of An Authentic Leader | Walking In Their Shoes

Some get it. She gets it.

Let’s call her Quinn.

As a new Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Quinn takes it upon herself to see what it’s like to walk in her team’s shoes.

Every staff meeting she reaches into a bowl containing strips of paper with the names of her teammates and randomly pulls out a name. Whoever’s name is on that strip is her next teacher.

How are they her teacher? She accompanies them on their next shift and does their work WITH them.

If they are a LVN, she helps them monitor vitals, dress wounds, and clean bedpans. If they are a noc shift RN, she works graveyard with them. If they are a day shift RN, she is by their side carrying the full patient load.

It doesn’t matter that she has advanced degrees and experiences. Quinn shows up wherever her people are.


Because she wants to see things from their perspective. She wants to personally know what they experience in the moment.

She wants their experiences to drive her decisions in meetings where she sits with those who do not share the same understanding.

She wants to know what their shoes feel like.

She is WITH.

Not only will her decisions be more balanced, but her team knows she is WITH them.

She understands. She has their back. She yokes up WITH them to feel their load rather than waiting for a “frustration explosion” when it becomes burdensome.

While working a single shift with someone does not allow for a full understanding of what goes on over time, it is an important step toward awareness.

Authentic leaders work to create systems that protect and build their team. This is accomplished by encouraging and allowing for authenticity. For everyone, not just the boss.

Authenticity can only happen when people are in close proximity - by experiencing life shoulder to shoulder and being in similar situations.

Bureaucracy widens relationship gaps.

Authenticity reduces relationship gaps.    

We humans don’t do authenticity naturally. We are much better at trying to ride the waves of shame and perfection until they dash us against the shore of reality.

Then, for some reason, we think we need to try again and “do better” and hop on another wave (by ourselves, I might add) to our detriment and those over whom we have influence.

In short, our human nature naturally inserts gaps through inauthenticity.

We judge, we elevate, we undermine, we cancel, and we compare. These actions are not the recipe for success in leadership or life because they separate.

We were built to be together. We were built to walk shoulder to shoulder. We were built to lean in together. We were built for quality relationships. We were built to be WITH.

We must work against these natural inclinations if we are to build trusting and cohesive teams.

A way we can do this is to look for ways to walk in your teammate’s shoes, like Quinn does.


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