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6 CNO-to-CEO Strategies

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, June 18, 2013

Curran says successful nurse executives possess the fundamentals skills a CEO needs. They know how to set priorities and delegate responsibility. They also understand the importance of building good networks and positive relationships, as well as always learning new things and broadening their skills by doing everything from reading articles to attending webinars and workshops. They have a firm grasp on finances, something many women are convinced they're ill-equipped for, despite routinely and competently managing their household finances. But that's a column for another day.

Risk-taking is also important.

Of those who have ventured forth, Curran says, "They all kind of stuck their nose out there and tried something that they had never tried before and never thought of trying." And maybe more importantly, they don't let fear of failure keep them from trying new—and maybe scary and intimidating—things. If you've never made a fool of yourself, now's the time to do it, she says.

"This is about taking a risk with your own abilities, taking a chance," she says. Don't be afraid of mistakes—they're inevitable—and don't linger over them. For example, if you use wrong terminology in a meeting, get over it and move on.  

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2 comments on "6 CNO-to-CEO Strategies"


Jackeline Biddle Shuler, DNP, JD, RN (6/18/2013 at 1:42 PM)
I agree with this article but there a few other fundamental issues at work with respect to nursing leadership dynamics. First, there doesn't seem to be enough room in healthcare leadership to accommodate executive nurse leaders of color. This is important because it speaks to the lack of commitment to the communities which are being served. Second, there doesn't seem be many opportunities to become an executive nurse leader to begin with. My experience is that getting all the right academic credentials is not enough because there isn't any kind of succession programs to help potential nurse leaders fulfill executive roles. That is how you get nurse leaders being complacent with staying at a CNO role because they know there isn't going to be much competition for that role so there is no incentive to mentor potential nurse leaders to assume that role so that they can assume CEO roles. What I see are executive nurse leaders moving from job to job in a lateral fashion causing what I call "stagnation" in CNO/ VP roles". Therefore, succession programs to get new blood into CNO roles and diversity are also key drivers to engaging more CNOs to want to aspire to CEO positions.

Betty Noyes (6/18/2013 at 1:20 PM)
Connie you are so RIGHT!!! We need to applaud those who have assumed the CEO role and served as Board Members! My experience at both was Great!!