Transformational Leadership

Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders (IONL) fellows' project
nursing image

Amber Nibling, MSN, NE-BC, NPD-BC, RN-BC, Margaret Menacher, BSN, RN, PCCN, and Kristen Farney, MSN, RNC, had the honor of representing the Carle health system as the 2019 Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders (IONL) fellows. And what’s so interesting about this dynamic group of women? They all came into this experience from very different backgrounds.

Nibling is the director of Clinical Education. She’s responsible for the Transition to Practice Programs, Clinical Education and Continuing Education.

“I’ve worked at Carle Foundation Hospital for 15 years and have been a nurse for 11 years,” she said. “I’m board-certified in Nursing Professional Development, Nurse Executive and Ambulatory Care Nursing.”

Menacher is the Patient Care manager of Windsor Clinic, and she’s been at Carle for more than 10 years. As for Farney, she’s the nurse manager for Home Visiting Services in Community Health Initiatives.

“I’ve been at Carle for 10 years and have worked in Community Health for the last three years,” Farney said. “During those three years, I’ve worked to build two brand new home visiting programs and focused on the health and well-being of women and children living in Champaign County.”

With the combined leadership experiences from the group, it wasn’t difficult for Nibling, Menacher and Farney to come up with an idea for a leadership project. They had all identified that, while they felt honored to be in leadership positions, it can be very difficult and isolating. The three of them had transitioned into current roles from staff positions.

“We identified that leadership can feel isolating and that leaders may not have all the information or resources to do their job well,” Farney said. “They might have unclear expectations from upper leadership.”

The deliverables set for their project were that leaders needed to identify at least five resources available to them, increase the comfort level of reaching out to peers by 10 percent and increase in self-reported joy at work by 10 percent.

"We reviewed the responses from Human Resource’s 2018 employee engagement survey, and the answers didn’t reflect what was being said through the leadership community at Carle," Farney said. So the three of them decided to develop a survey.

The survey had a total of nine questions, different from the engagement survey. They sent it to leaders from both acute and ambulatory settings.

“We were trying to assess leaders' feelings of joy at work, feelings of involvement, feelings of support and feelings surrounding their leadership role,” Farney said.

The team then took the results from the survey and developed an action plan from it. The plan involved setting up quarterly networking opportunities, which gives leaders time to meet and get to know their peers outside of work.

“We also set up an “attitude of gratitude” section at each nurse leader meeting,” Farney said. “This would allow time during each meeting for leaders to write thank you notes to one another acknowledging the hard work they’ve been doing.”

Plus, Nibling, Menacher and Farney decided to develop a repository on CLICK for nurse leaders. The page includes resource information, interesting articles, information on upcoming events and a section where you could ask another leader for advice.

This project was then presented to the entire 2019 fellowship class and received positive feedback from leaders across the state. The team had the unique opportunity to present their findings at the IONL annual meeting poster presentation, as well as discuss their project’s success and additional plans with other organizations across the state.

“It was an amazing experience and one that changed leadership for all three of us,” Farney said.