Editorial

Are children’s nurses ready for collective leadership?

Children’s nurses are an eclectic group, but by speaking as one they can influence policy
Picture of children’s nurses

Childrens nurses are an eclectic group, but by speaking as one they can influence policy

The term collective leadership is used every day in healthcare. It is generally understood to mean distributing and allocating leadership power to wherever expertise, capability and motivation sits within organisations ( Kings Fund 2014 ). But how ready is nursing for it?

In terms of childrens nurse leadership, this question has been debated in the context of refreshing the purpose of the Association of Chief Childrens Nurses (ACCN).

The ACCN was established 25 years ago and, in that membership eligibility was determined by the number of inpatient beds a senior nurse was accountable for, embodied leadership theory at that time.

However, the inference that size relates to

...

Children’s nurses are an eclectic group, but by speaking as one they can influence policy

Picture of children’s nurses
Picture: iStock

The term ‘collective leadership’ is used every day in healthcare. It is generally understood to mean ‘distributing and allocating leadership power to wherever expertise, capability and motivation sits within organisations’ (Kings Fund 2014). But how ready is nursing for it?

In terms of children’s nurse leadership, this question has been debated in the context of refreshing the purpose of the Association of Chief Children’s Nurses (ACCN).

The ACCN was established 25 years ago and, in that membership eligibility was determined by the number of inpatient beds a senior nurse was accountable for, embodied leadership theory at that time.

However, the inference that size relates to power no longer applies  in the ACCN, which now boasts an eclectic membership drawn from all levels of seniority, and from a breadth of NHS, professional and voluntary sectors in the UK.

Children’s nurses can form a coherent message

ACCN members have also reviewed the effectiveness of the organisation in influencing national policy for children and young people.

The review concludes that, by taking opportunities to listen and learn from each other, children’s nurses can come up with a powerful and coherent message.

The ACCN is committed to ensuring children’s nurses have a collective voice and to communicating their agreed messages to the most appropriate forum. Too often in the past nursing debates and discussions have ‘remained in the room’ after delegates have left.

All children’s nurses need to develop their own leadership skills, including strategies for networking and resource mobilisation, mastering political influence and possessing resilience.

While the revised NMC preregistration curriculum prepares nurses to lead, the role of senior children’s nurse leaders today is to support the profession in developing more subtle skills attuned to leadership success.

The ACCN was due to hold its annual conference on 20 March in London but it has been postponed because of Covid-19.


Picture of Sally ShearerSally Shearer is executive director of nursing and quality, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, visiting professor Sheffield Hallam University and chair of the Association of Chief Children’s Nurses

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursingchildrenandyoungpeople.com
  • Bi-monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs