Helping Nurses "Live Smarter Not Harder" by Balancing the Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit

Own The Tone

Nursing CapMy first position as a Director of Nursing in a home care agency had me ill equipped to manage staff. As a new person, I heard a lot of, “I don’t do that!” “That’s her job!” Others would pull me to the side to say, “They did that for the last director” or “The last director did this.” I learned quickly that I needed to set the tone for my own position and how I would handle issues. I learned that it is the most important factor for effective leadership that a leader sets the tone. This is true of new managers and seasoned managers who may be taking on new staff, or may just realize that what they’re doing just isn’t working.

The way you dress, keep your office space, speak and handle yourself professionally are all involved in setting the atmosphere in which you work. You set the tone of how change is accepted by yourself and your staff. You set the tone of how you will be treated by your peers and co-workers. You set the tone on how your staff will treat each other.

Three tips to help you set the tone at your workplace:

  1. Learn your job description and your staff’s job descriptions (if you have staff). If you don’t have staff know the job descriptions of the people you will work closely with. You really need to know what everyone does so you can see how the different positions interact to see the big picture.
  2.  Survey – Speak with and observe your upper direct reports, other managers, staff and ancillary staff to understand the culture of the organization. Every organization has its own unique culture. Sometimes different units will have their own sub-cultures. This is to avoid being a “bull in a china shop” or be “run over” by some bulldozer type personalities.
  3. Lead – Lead with confidence. Once you understand processes and culture, don’t be afraid to implement new things. You are the fresh eyes and with due diligence most likely have very good ideas because you haven’t been totally incorporated into the culture. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks or make mistakes. As long as you learn from them, you will continue to grow.

Let’s talk about it. Join my Facebook Group The Leaders Journey Network.

About Naomi
Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. As a Life Coach she specializes in helping nursing leadership “Live and Work Smarter not Harder!” With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. For more information about coaching with Naomi, visit

Comments on: "Own The Tone" (6)

  1. Yes, our actions do speak louder than our words. I enjoy how you suggest our tone can impact the leadership we are displaying (or lack thereof). Speaking with confidence, learning the lay of the land and being that role model are great ways to embody nursing leadership. Thank you for a great article.

  2. Thanks so much Elizabeth! It’s a great way to put it “actions speak louder than words” thanks for your support.

  3. Louise Nixon said:

    Great article. Too bad many of I had to learn these things the hard way. It made me a better leader.

  4. Thanks Louise. That’s why I try and share my lessons learned in my journey. I hope to make better leaders without them having to learn them the “hard way”!

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