Leveraging Leadership Coaching for Nurse Leader Development

What We Can Do Now in Response to the Rising Nurse Leader Turnover and

Healthcare is facing an urgent challenge.

These are the concerning conditions impacting our industry:

  • The enormous wave of baby boomer retirements within the nursing population   
  • A worsening bottleneck in our nursing schools   
  • Widespread burnout brought on by the COVID pandemic causing chronic insufficient staffing 

Simply put, nurses who are retiring or leaving the profession are significantly outpacing the number of qualified nurse candidates who can fill open positions over the next decade.1

This perfect storm of complex problems is causing an unprecedented talent shortage in our nursing workforce. The nursing shortage we face today is a persistent challenge with far-reaching consequences for patients and the U.S. healthcare system. We are already seeing its dangerous impacts: increased workloads for already stressed staff existing staff, reduced patient care quality, and increases in medical errors.2

I acknowledge that some very smart people in both the healthcare industry and the U.S. government are discussing long-term solutions that will help address this problem. After spending countless hours during the last several month meeting with, coaching, and shadowing practicing nurse leaders, I implore the CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CHROs, and CNOs in our healthcare organizations to not just wait for these distant strategies to begin kicking in. Our hospitals, our nursing professionals, and our patients need support right now. 

A Call for Immediate Action

What can be done to provide immediate relief in this dire situation? 

I’ve witnessed how in some healthcare organizations leadership coaching has made a significant positive impact on leaders. As I progressed in my own leadership journey, executive coaches played a crucial role in my growth. Serving as trusted advisors, they provided candid feedback and helped me gain valuable insights that unlocked untapped confidence and influence, accelerating my performance. Their unwavering support was essential to my success.

The investment in coaching yields tangible results driving organizational success and it’s also an essential component of an organization’s strategy to retain its nurse leader talent.

I propose that the simple act of engaging leadership coaches for our nurse leaders would make a significant and positive impact on this complex problem. It’s high time this proven development tool is adopted by more healthcare organizations.  With patient outcomes at stake, it is essential to leverage the data on leadership effectiveness, which shows that employees reporting to have effective managers are 15.4 times more likely to be high performers.3

Here are three crucial ways leadership coaching combats these challenges:   

1. Accelerate Nurse Leader Performance 

A study sponsored by the Institute for Coaching found that 70% of coachees benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills.4 In healthcare organizations, leadership coaching provides nurse leaders with a personalized and focused approach to developing essential leadership and management skills. In the context of the nursing shortage, effective leadership is critical for optimizing the performance of existing nursing staff, making strategic decisions, and creating a healthy work environment. Coaching sessions can focus on communication skills, conflict resolution, relationship building and strategic decision-making, empowering nurse leaders to navigate complex challenges with confidence.

2. Reduce Turnover 

In our recent National Pulse Survey, we found that nurse leaders with access to coaching are 78% more likely to stay at their organization. Simply put, organizations who invest and support their nurse leaders through coaching programs are much more likely to retain those high value nurse leaders. Leadership coaching also guides nurse leaders in developing strategic succession plans, effective talent development, and innovative retention strategies. With nursing leaders in short supply, it is crucial that current leaders identify and nurture emerging leaders within the nursing workforce.  

3.  Develop a Powerful Leadership Presence 

Leaders who possess presence influence others through their communication skills, ability to manage stressful and complex situations and through the building of trusting relationships. 

Leadership coaching provides nurse leaders with the tools, insights, and support they need to develop a leadership presence that authentically engages others, inspires trust, and drives meaningful change within their organizations. Leaders learn techniques to manage stress, increase their confidence and develop their emotional intelligence. 

Making a Difference Today

  • The nursing shortage in the United States is a complex and multifaceted issue with profound implications for healthcare delivery, patient outcomes, and the well-being of the nursing workforce.

  • Addressing this challenge requires a comprehensive approach, involving strategic investments in education, workforce development, and policies that prioritize the recruitment and retention of nurses. However, let’s not forget that there are also valuable and proven resources that will have an immediate effect on the leader, their teams and organizational performance.

  • Leadership coaching offers a targeted and personalized approach to addressing the challenges posed by the current complex healthcare landscape and the unprecedented nursing shortage. It’s an indispensable and remarkably cost-effective solution essential for the success of today’s nurse leaders. 

Picture of Lori Armstrong DNP, RN NEA-BC

Lori Armstrong DNP, RN NEA-BC

CEO & Chief Clinical Officer

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2021-2031
  2. American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “Impact of the Nursing Shortage on Patient Care”
  3. Gartner 2023 HR Survey  
  4. Institute of Coaching: https://instituteofcoaching.org/coaching-overview/coaching-benefits

Interested in learning about Inspire Nurse Leaders coaching solutions? We believe in the power of collaboration and open dialogue. Contact us today to get started.