AORN Blog - The Periop Life

You Don’t Have to Be the Boss to Be a Leader

A Conversation with Holly Ervine, MSN, RN, CNOR


You Don’t Have to Be the Boss to Be A Leader

February 24, 2019   

No matter what our perioperative job title is, we all can be leaders.

We lead when we advocate for a patient’s safety to ensure their optimal outcome, when we share knowledge by mentoring a colleague, and when we contribute to team morale.

Being aware of our leadership skills and continually building our ability to lead is such an important part of any perioperative nursing career path. I have learned this in my clinical and leadership roles in the OR and in my various leadership roles as a member of AORN’s board of directors.

In my own professional journey, the following five tools have helped me lead.

1. Being a Positive Role Model

Don’t get caught up in locker room and break room talk about colleagues. Make sure to form your own opinions of co-workers.

2. Modeling “Followership”

It’s important to support your leaders and the decisions they make, even when you may disagree. Being vocal about leader support promotes a positive work environment and encourages all members of the team to respect and listen to each other.

3. Showing Confidence

If you can walk the talk, your coworkers and your patients will see you are a competent nurse. For patients, this confidence instills a sense of comfort and for colleagues this competence inspires trust and strong collaboration.

4. Sharing Knowledge

Mentoring is a great way to lead on the front line. When we share our knowledge of evidence-based practice, we share with new nurses the safest way to protect our patients and ourselves and optimize all areas of perioperative care.

5. Being Involved

Networking with your professional organization helps you grow as a nurse. Those you network with may see you as a potential leader and support your career advancement.

I’m challenged every day to put these tools into practice, but I am a true advocate for those I work with and I’m a big believer in sharing knowledge and mentoring others.

I’ve also learned the more we use our leadership skills, the easier it is to step into leadership roles because we’ve already demonstrated our leadership qualities.

Ervine will share more insights and personal stories on leadership skills and tools in her session on “How to Lead When You Are Not in Charge” on April 10 in Nashville, TN at AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo 2019. Plus, learn more about AORN’s new membership for leaders designed specifically for nurse leaders with challenges beyond the clinical setting.

Holly Ervine, MSN, RN, CNOR is a perioperative educator at WellStar Health System in Atlanta, GA and AORN Vice President.