Lead By Truth

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Three things cannot be hidden long – the sun, the moon, and the truth   ~ Buddha

Lead by truth. It seems so obvious but our current political climate demonstrates popular, untested beliefs and wants have a way of obfuscating the truth. Yes, we must honor the needs of our citizens, our clients, our patients, our staff, our colleagues -AND- we must do so within the context of truth backed by evidence and data. Leadership guidelines in a post-truth era will require a strong sense of fortitude.

Rule #1: Commit unrelentingly to the truth. Sometimes it is hidden. Do the digging necessary to unearth the truth. Sometimes it does not want to be heard. Let the truth be heard over other voices.

Rule #2: Question all assumptions. Sound decisions cannot be based on faulty assumptions and half-truths. Recognize that assumptions and truth can change over time. For example, the earth is not flat, margarine is not a healthy alternative to butter, and pressure ulcers are not an acceptable consequence of hospitalization. We must be open and humble, yet critical and discerning about assumptions that underlie truth.

Rule #3: Demand data and evidence, both quantitative and qualitative. Build an accurate picture of a situation from which decisions can be made. Stay open to the emergence of new truths based on solid evidence.

Rule #4: Understand counter-arguments. Consider alternative perspectives and points of view. Understand their genesis and logic or lack thereof. Engage in the civil discourse needed to uncover and uphold what is true. Call out falsehoods – yours and those of others.

Rule #5: Situate healthcare leadership within the context of social justice and principles of equity. Ask the questions: Whose truth is this? Does it hold true for all? Who is advantaged or disadvantaged by this truth? Will decisions based on this truth support and advance health equity and social justice or will decisions based on this truth lead to inequities and disparities?

Rule #6: Base decision making on truth and not popular beliefs. Stand firmly on truth to guide decisions. Popularity is wildly overrated. Truth endures.

As nurse leaders we are charged with upholding enduring truths and engaging in critical analysis and discourse to confirm what is true about any situation or strategy. A new year is just ahead and it requires us to double down on leadership through truth, to question assumptions, demand evidence and data, understand counter-arguments, situate leadership on principles of social justice and equity, and finally, to base decisions on enduring truths. Healthcare transformation relies on strong leaders, nurses and others, to guide our nation and world toward health and well-being for the long term. It is our obligation to lead healthcare transformation on the foundation of truth and to navigate the insidious seduction of falsehoods with fortitude and commitment to facts and accuracy. Onward and upward in 2017!

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