12 Uncommon Traits of Highly Effective Nursing Career Coaches/Mentors: How To Stand Out

23 min read

Nursing Career Coaches/Mentors, A Needed Niche In A Growing World.

How To Stand Out…

The Great Drought

Most of us are coaches or mentors, unbeknownst to us…

Somehow, we are making use of our exposures & experiences to help others nurture their passion for something.

In the World of nursing, where many are having a hard time figuring out their positions, directions & paths, career/leadership coaching has never been more needed than now.

The nursing profession has suffered from what I chose to call “a chronic neglect in mentorship/leadership,” for a long time, a very long time. There is a deficiency. We are grossly malnourished in that aspect.

Let me call it a drought. A drought of effective leadership has left us dry, our land patched, and our throats aching for wetness [there is water, but there isn’t enough to go round].

We began to enjoy the wisdom of mentorship in leadership & career about a few years ago.

It’s a new & needed development, one we should guide with all that we have as a professional community.

I talk about true mentorship/leadership here. And not commercial one; much of what we see around. Men & women running into this thing because of the recognition & cash & many doing it because they want content to feed into their social media or as a job.  

It’s more than that…

Creating A Unique Ecosystem

Today, we are seeing a dramatic increase in smart nurses stepping out and choosing to be recognized as nurse coaches & nurse mentors [some are older passionate nurses, the majority are younger, filled with so much energy]. 

I have interviewed some of them in a publication on Care City dedicated to leadership & Innovation [INSPIRE], and it’s exciting, to see nurses utilizing this newfound energy to push for strategic change(s) in the profession.

Though I don’t call myself a mentor or leadership coach, I may fall in the category of those who don’t intentional or conspicuously identify, but that does not mean I am not one, I am one, as one who is obsessed with writing & telling stories, and highly interested in the growth & development of my colleagues & friends, I think I qualify, somehow to be called one.

It’s impressive, sincerely.

And what makes it even more interesting, is that more African nurses are also beginning to massively buy into this idea. 

It is part of the ingredients that we need in the African nursing community to breakout into potential.

We need to create/build a Nursing Ecosystem (a new & exciting term I am learning) that can accommodate the rapid transformation that we are experiencing as a profession. 

In this new ecosystem, we must exist as one organic body thinking & working towards one common goal. And this is where the job description of the nurse coach & mentor is well defined. 

In this essay, I am writing about it, and also giving some tips on how to stand out as a Nurse Career/Leadership Coach/Mentor.

The wisdom you will find here is from experience interacting with nurses, reading a lot, and most importantly writing a whole lot about nursing leadership. 

Read it with an open heart. It’s an essay and not a research study [I wish it was, but it would bore you]. I strongly believe that in it, you will find some tiny wisdom to help you as you keep changing the world as a Nurse Leader/Coach/Mentor.

And for Nurses who are nurturing the pure desire to become Nurse Leaders/Coaches/Mentors, this essay is actually for you. Let it instill in you the needed impetus to drive you to believe more in who you want to become.

Let it inspire you to do more…(winks).

Now to the…

12 Uncommon Traits of Highly Effective Nursing Career Coaches/Mentors:

They Are Natural Leaders:

“Most people take the limits of their vision to be the limits of the world. A few do not. Join them.” 

Arthur Schopenhauer

Number one on the list. That’s why they can do what they do because they are natural leaders! Hold on there! Natural leaders? Well, in every sense of the word, they are, but they must put in the effort needed to bring that leader out. 

If the Oak is not planted, it remains an Oak’s seed [it can even die as an Oak’s seed]. 

Genius they say is born and not developed (whichever way you want to put it). For me, I believe it in both ways. Genius can be born, and it can be developed. 

The human mind can be made to conform. It’s like a muscle. It can grow, and it atrophies [if not used]. If you stretch it adequately, it will respond to growth & development. 

What are you going to do about that truth? Sleep on it? Or start working? For the fact that you have a burning desire to lead, you are already a natural. 

Now, you must be ready to put talent to work. Wear the cloak of discipline, consistency & constant learning.

 “Dedication and Discipline beats brilliance and giftedness every day of the week.” 

It’s going to be tough, trying to chart your way through this newfound path, because very few have passed it, and only a few have found it and are finding it. 

Nevertheless, you have got what it takes. If you want to stand out, you must develop the leader in you. And how can you do that? 

The best advice is to constantly interact with those who are leaders, and who are serious with their dreams. That’s all you need, believe me. From those serious folks, you will get what you need, all that you need. 

You are a natural leader. Feed that flame roaring within with the right motivation! 

They Always Have Time:

For productive activities. Distraction sabotages our productivity & creativity [read that statement ten more times]. 

I have time for many things. And I know when it’s time to do those things that are important. 

You must have time for everything. Don’t be caught in the trap that tries to deceive you into becoming a leader who has no time for things that matter to them. 

You have got a body to take care of – besides, the body houses your essence, without it, you won’t be able to articulate your dreams & visions, so take good care of it. 

Have time for it. Find sleep, eat well, protect your mental health at all costs [at all costs]. If activities are beginning to tell on how you manage your time, take a break. 

You must always have time. Have time for family & friends. Create time, but don’t waste it. To those of us who have primary duties, either as clinical nurses or administrative or research duties, it is wise to learn how to manage time, so that you will always have time. 

You see, time is a resource, like money & people. You must learn how to handle it if you ever want to make the best out of it. 

Most of the time, I hear people complain to me that they don’t have time. And I am worried, because I don’t know how to communicate it to them that they have all the time that they will ever need. 

I repented from the lie of “I have got no time.” That statement will always weaken you. 

What To Read:

On Nursing Innovation: The Power of Community

Altitude Africa: Taking The Nursing Profession In Africa To Greater Heights

We have time for the things that we love & are interested in. I have time to write, it may not be enough right now, but I still got time. 

If it warrants you to take time management courses, please do. 

I know you will do whatever it takes to be the best at what you do. You will eschew mediocrity & pursue to the fullest, the highest standards of excellence. 


Know your capacity… 

Don’t allow excitement rob you of common sense. You should know what you can accomodate & sustain as a leader. 

If you keep taking projects that you do not have enough discipline & resource in time to execute, then you are standing on a queue waiting to be served a hot dish of well boiled failure, garnished with some disappointments & a bit of heart aches. 

It Is Easy To Approach Them:

You are not the Statue of Liberty or Genghis Khan or an ancient Pharaoh or yet Bill Gates or Warren Buffet

You are a man, like all of us. Be easy to approach. You are a leader, a mentor, and what makes it even more serious, you are a coach. 

Reply to your messages on social media. Reply to your emails (I make sure I reply to all my messages on media, and I apologize when I reply too late).

Some of us are going to grow big. When you get big, always remember to stay small. This niche is a very new one. Especially in the African Nursing community. 

Many of us are learning the rungs ourselves. There is every tendency to become big in the future, and then isolate yourself from the community that feeds your passion. 

We are nothing without the reader or those who listen to us. They are an integral part of this ecosystem

I have made it a point of duty, to make sure I interact adequately with anyone that reaches out to me, no matter what. 

It’s accepted if you get overwhelmingly busy, that’s evident, but yet, try to put a system in place that makes it easy for people to get to you if they must. 

I know you sell your time [in coaching hours & consulting sessions]. But I hope you also know that some nurses who really do need your help might not be able to afford you? It becomes a barrier to them, they can’t reach you. They want to, but they can’t get to you. 

If you have a slightly different opinion, that’s accepted. We are all entitled to what we think. But most times, we have to reason from the basic to the more complex, and I have always been a fan of the basic thoughts of life

Be easy to approach. 

It Isn’t Always For The Money or Recognition:

If you get good at what you do, good things will look for you, and money & recognition are two good things that follow people who get good at what they do. 

But it is not because of these good things that you do what you do. It’s something deeper. It’s fulfillment and total love for the game, this game. 

Getting rich and famous is good, but compared to the real stuff? The real stuff towers soo high above the heads of cash & fame! It’s about impact. 

When I get a message from a reader on my mail or our official mail showing appreciation, I am extremely happy! I want that more than the money & fame! Seriously guys. 

Money gets spent, fame can die one day, but a lasting impact endures forever. Oh yes, people should get rewarded for the creative work that they are doing. 

Yes, there’s no doubt about that. But people should not get creative because of rewards, it burns them and waters down creativity

If I write for the money, I shouldn’t be here writing all this stuff. But I write because I have a solid love for the craft. 

Seeing my messages crystalizing on blank pages to become ‘hope’ for a few, and inspiration for those who are dry and tired is something fulfilling, yes it is. 

The money can motivate you, allow it to, but it doesn’t go as deep as it should go. Something goes deeper and hits the spot! 

They Have a Story To Tell:

We all are walking living pages of fantastic stories. Telling these true stories has a unique way of bringing dead passions to life & steering people in the right direction. 

That’s why we started ‘INSPIRE’ on Care City. We pick one Nurse every month and have them tell their unique story in an interview form. 

It has inspired many, and it is going to inspire billions! These Nurses are not major names you may know. There are young nurses, who have a passion for what they do. 

And the culture that I have developed when preparing these interviews is built around the idea of knowing much about the guest. 

I follow them on social media, interact with their ideas through their works, read their articles, visit their blogs or websites if they have any, look for their unique achievements and leadership landmarks. 

I do all these so that I can write unique questions that will trigger them to tell that story, and it has been wonderful, So far we have interviewed six amazing nurses, you should go check them out here

You have a story to tell. Today, you are living a story that will be told tomorrow. And when your tomorrow becomes history, it also becomes a story for the future.

I know you want to develop content to feed your media, but may I add something here? Please, try not to lie when creating content. It hurts creativity. Let the audience know that what you are saying is fiction, so that they know how to steer their emotional responses. 

They Know How To Communicate Their Message(s):

You must know & deeply understand your unique message. 

Certain experiences have molded you in the past. You must draw unique wisdom from them and apply it to your daily dealings with nurses who wish to learn from you. 

Don’t discard any experience. There is always something in it for you & a thousand others. And knowing how to communicate this message is key.

They must learn how to communicate. Either through writing, speaking, or video, which is a mixture of speaking & visual (you know I prefer writing). 

Though the audience tends to interact more with visual content, writing is still king (my personal bias). 

I have always loved the art of writing. And it is through it that I reach my audience. I am not very eloquent, I must confess, those who have interacted with me can testify, so I purposely shy away from vocal communications with people I am not entirely close to. 

But that does not mean I won’t try my best if talking is the menu. 

You must know how to communicate that message that you have inside you. Take classes if you have to. I read about writing every day, and I am constantly on the lookout for new techniques, tools & styles. 

You owe it to those who will interact with your content or message now or in the future. 

Leaders don’t abandon their past, and they don’t cast blames on the ugly experiences that they had in the past, instead they become the hero, facing that past, and learning something remarkable from it. 

That’s how you win, by learning. 

They Love Healthy Challenges:

Underline the word ‘healthy’. The qualifier there tells you that there are ‘unhealthy’ challenges. 

The ones that are not from pure motives. I love challenges, if they make me grow. Leadership challenges, talent challenges, and the likes. Engagements that encourage you to become better. That’s healthy. Not toxic ones that poison your passion, and make you doubt your calling as a leader.

When you perceive that it is time to improve or increase, that’s a challenge to your value. You must accept it. Rejecting it will obviously mean you want to remain where you are. And that’s not what we do here. We are always on the move. 

It is highly recommended that you do a personal SWOT analysis; to know your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats [more on this in another essay]. 

They Know The Importance of Network:

The next relationship might be what you need to break through. Maybe a feature, or an interview, you never can tell. Don’t run away from networking. 

We never become too big to network, instead, the bigger we become, the more we realize how important it is for us to expand our network base to make it easier for it to accommodate our progress.

Don’t forget that. No one is too small for you to stretch out your hand to. If you begin to see people as small, then you begin to lose the very essence of community. 

It is the tiny strands that keep the muscles together.

Attend Webinars & Seminars. Volunteer your skills & experience. Get involved in community work. By so doing, you are opening yourself up to newer connections. 

Don’t adopt the “lone wolf” kind of lifestyle. It doesn’t work for serious leaders. 

Your dreams are preserved when you constantly expose them to the warmth of the ideas of others in your community. 

If you observe that you have very poor habit in terms of relating with people [that’s a weakness], you must address it as soon as possible, don’t say it’s my nature. It’s not. You have been conditioned to view your life from that perspective, through a misty lens. 

You care about people. You do what you do because you want to see that people become better. 

On the other hand, you must also know when to dissociate your self from an association that is hurting you. This is important. 

If you are loyal to a community that keeps on hurting you in whatever way, and you refuse to leave, you will wear out. 

They Know How To Maximise The Competition:

Now, listen, competition is not a battle. This is one thought I place in front of me when I do the things that I do, as a professional nurse & a committed writer. 

I take my time to enjoy the works of others, try to volunteer where I can, and do my best in giving my best. 

Working hard & smart is part of the game, so I am busy working hard & smart, trying to get better at what I do. 

The only competition I am aware of is the struggle to beat mediocrity

If you want to survive as a mentor or leader in this new world, adopt this mindset. It will help you go far. 

The moment you see someone who is doing it better than you, there is no crime in reaching out. 

Subscribe to their academy if they have one or community to learn from them, or if possible, try to interact directly with them. 

If you get rejected, well, you earn one more rejection feather to your cap [which of us have not enjoyed the coffee of rejection? Especially writers].

Don’t compromise your standards for anything. If you were shown a shotcut to getting there, gladly decline. We are not built for shortcuts. There are things the true path wants to show you that a short & easy path has not the patience & time to teach. 

Are you noticing the competition? If you are, use it. Ride on its waves. It should make you better. If it makes you bitter, then you need to do some work on yourself.

They Are Delighted To Make Use of Small Opportunities:

The media world is like a great boxing contest. If you don’t have certain attributes, you get kicked out. 

Major media players are people who have been able to make use of opportunities that came their way, both great & small ones. 

But now, it looks as if folks are searching for the big opportunities, while they overlook the seemingly smaller ones, which are the big ones in disguise in many scenarios. 

When I started in media, I did not have many opportunities. What I had was just my passion to contribute my quota to the change we all have been praying for. 

I took on every task that was given to me (I still take on tasks, but this time around with a bigger team). I saw volunteering my skills as an opportunity to interact, network & get better at what I have decided to do. 

And Healthcare Media has its unique peculiarities. Most Healthcare Professionals who are active on media are doing it by the side, they are not in it full time, a large percentage of their time is spent in clinical practice or on some other primary responsibility, so it’s not easy for them, they have to work on very tight ropes, juggle between schedules, and they have to meet up, create content, engage their online community and do a lot of stuff. 

So, you see, for us, the media is a different world. It takes time to build a community that can make you independent from regular work. What am I saying in essence here? Take on the small opportunities that may come your way (if you have the time). It’s networking, and it’s fun.

Don’t you look down on any opportunity that comes your way. You never can tell. There might be something in it waiting for you. 

Give it all you have got. That’s how you know champions. They give their all to all. 

They Have Excellent Business Sense:

This is where we might have a little challenge. You can get occupied with becoming your dreams that you forget this aspect of the game. 

I mentioned earlier that it is not about the money right? Yes, that’s accurate. But on the other hand, you will be required to handle money, it always comes at one point in your journey if you are passionate & consistent enough [rewards]. 

Creators should be able to survive on their abilities. It’s business, and for you to remain relevant, you should understand what business is. 

If you decide to make it a business, you must know what a business is. Though I must warn you here, always know when you are getting consumed by the greed that comes with opportunities the moment you begin to grow [It’s so important]. 

I have mentioned in an earlier paragraph that it waters down your creativity, it dilutes it. 

Learn about business, so that you will be able to manage profit. You can employ a professional or professionals to do that (that’s if you get big, you know what I mean?) 

But if you are starting, and you begin to see profits coming in from your creative/leadership abilities, it is wise that you know a thing or two or even more about the nature of business. You may become an entrepreneur, it all depends on several factors, but the basic advice here is that you should have a fine grasp of the rudiments of how to handle a business. 

Take free business courses online. Udemy, Google & Coursera have a plethora of options that you can select from. 

If you know one or two connections that are doing well in the world of business, then you are in luck. Try to interact with them, and learn as much as you can. 

They Understand The Dynamics of Teamwork & Community:

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie was a wonderful fellow. I like him, though I love Dale Carnegie more. 

Andrew was more of business. Dale was more on the side of writing & leadership [my side of the game]. 

Oh, we know you are smart, and you have crazy ideas that can change the world. But you are little all alone. Great things are not brought to fruition on the single backs of one person. 

You need a team [a good one]. When I started building an online presence, I knew I could not do it all alone. So, I kept reaching out, sharing my visions with those who cared to listen, and magically, people who understood what I wanted to do were attracted to me. 

Build a team & build community. You can’t do it all alone, believe me. 

Smart entrepreneurs who started all alone failed along the line or got crushed under the weight of wanting to do things alone. 

I have seen beautiful & wonderful nurses who have great visions trying to do it all alone. You are not Atlas, you can’t sustain the weight of the whole world on your shoulder. You need help, more than you even realize. 

So, reach out. Let people know that you are open to accommodate volunteers, partners & sponsors. If you so much respect that dream, you will do all you must do to keep it alive, and building a team and community is part of that which you must do to keep your dream alive. 

Somehow, we are making use of our exposures & experiences to help others nurture their passion for their dreams. This is what we do as coaches/mentors. 

We are dedicated to making sure that those who interact with us, either through our creative works or directly are left with an indelible mark that lingers long in their souls. 

Don’t ever get tired of adding bricks to your structure. Every brick counts. You have to keep learning to remain relevant. 

Nurses out there need you. They want to learn from you. And you need them. You have been privileged to be accorded certain opportunities that have stood you out of the crowd. Use this stage well.

Let me leave you with this note from Picasso, one of the most innovative painters of all time:

My mother said to me, if you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the pope. Instead, I was a painter. And became Picasso.

Welcome to greatness…

What To Read Next:

Nursing Mentorship: Mentor Material

Think Innovation Now

Nurse-Led Hospital Administration

I am opened to GUEST BLOGGING. If you want me to write a guest post or two for your Blog or Website, don’t hesitate to holla at me on Twitter, or send me a personal mail. And if you desire that your essay(s) or article(s) features on Care City Blog, please, reach out to us, let’s talk about it.

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