Building better nurses.  

What have the All Blacks Rugby union team got to do with improving our nursing culture?

Turns out….everything.
So hang in with me here…..

In an article published in Linkedin, Adam Daniel examined the leadership behind the All Blacks rugby team.

Back in 2004, something was wrong. The 2003 World Cup had gone badly, and by the start of the following year senior All Blacks were threatening to leave. Discipline was lacking with players drunk and disorderly and to make things worse….the All Blacks were losing.
In response, a new management team under Graham Henry began to rebuild the world’s most successful sporting team from the inside out. They wanted a fresh culture that placed emphasis on individual character and personal leadership.

It seems to me, many nurses are currently struggling within similar professional environments. Perhaps not so much of the drunk and disorderly, but yes in many areas our teams are really struggling.

We need to look at developing nurses as people and not just as nurses.

Although often unclear as to the actual root causes, hospital managers are well aware of the direct negative impacts on the quality of nursing care that poor team performance produces.

Following the mantra of PATIENT CENTRED care, senior hospital leaders send so-called ‘person-centred’ solutions and executive based clinical directives down the chain of command. By focusing primarily on the patients, and not also looking at its people, clinical care delivery may improve for a short time. But sustained improvement is difficult as the teams continue to struggle.

Dealing with its own shortfalls, the All Blacks team needed a complete paradigm change. They developed a Leadership Group who’s role was not top-down governance, but instead worked to develop its individuals, nurture its ethical standards, focus on the culture of its team, and to maintain the ‘integrity of the jersey’.

Leadership to SERVE the team, not to be SERVED by the team.

The All Blacks management recognised the importance of developing and nurturing its most precious resources in order to build champion teams.

Instead of obsessing on outcomes they focused on personal character development.

In Maori culture WHANAU means extended family, it’s symbol is a spearhead.
Every All Black follows the mantra ‘NO DICK HEADS’
The All Blacks management select on character as well as talent.
So a super promising player would never pull on a jersey if they are consider a dick head, their place in the team would be detrimental to the WHANAU.
The team has a mantra ‘CHAMPIONS DO MORE’
This means finding incremental ways to keep improving.

Imagine our nursing culture driven by a fostering of personal excellence within a context of an ‘extended family’ identity.

A collective intolerance of dick heads and celebration of nurses modelling cohesive teamwork built upon a strong individual ethical & moral compass. This, valued just as much as clinical competence.

A champion team attracting and inspiring new and future nurses.

Sound a bit wishy washy? Tell that to the All Blacks.

Better people make better LEADERS.
Leadership isn’t just about being the best in your field in terms of KNOWLEDGE and SKILL.
These attributes are important, yet what really is important is the way you are at HOME, out of the spotlight.

Are you balanced with work/ home life (always a juggling act).
Are you in harmony in your relationship?
Are you faithful and loyal with your energy?
Are you putting others before yourself?

The greatest expression of LOVE is SERVICE.
Real LEADERS make LEADERS of others….
Real leaders are there to SERVE, not to be SERVED and have their followers gratify their ego’s.

Of all the professions we should have the qualities to excell at this . Yet, far too often, it seems we do not.

If we really are committed to improving our patient centred care we need managers willing to provide sustained resources dedicated to growing nurses as people and not just as nurses. At ALL levels.

Then we can really turn around some of our current clinical environments and produce champion teams delivering World Cup standards of care.

Reference: No Dick Heads. (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2015, from

Mrs M and the ANGRY stare.

The Scene.

Last night I was working as team leader in the emergency department.
It was a busy shift with multiple patients who were seriously unwell.

A 35 year old, Mrs M, had arrived several hours before. She had a complex medical history including mental health problems. She had been assessed, stabilised, and was now awaiting the allocation of an inpatient bed on the wards.

Continue reading “Mrs M and the ANGRY stare.”

Rigors & Febrile Convulsions.

ECT4healthThe following is a guest post by Rob Timmings (Director of ECT4Health). Rob resides in Toowoomba Queensland and has a background is in emergency, psychiatry and hyperbarics. He has worked in Brisbane’s largest trauma units, and in Queensland’s most remote farther reaches as a remote nurse.
You can access his other teachings and courses here:


Continue reading “Rigors & Febrile Convulsions.”

The top 12 ways to frazzle a nurse.

Australian nurses have one of the highest rates of workers compensation claims for work related mental stress.

A small study in the Journal of Nursing Management looked to identify the top occupational stressors from the perspective of nurses working in a regional hospital.

Such causes of occupational (and personal) stress are associated with negative physical and psychological health, as well as increased incidence of depression, increased staff turnover, and high sick leave.

Continue reading “The top 12 ways to frazzle a nurse.”