The resilient nurse leader coaching series an interview with amy steinbinder – thunderbird leadership

The healthcare industry continues to be faced with so many interacting challenges: rising costs, unstable funding, sustaining an adequate, engaged and experienced workforce, creating a positive patient experience, ensuring high reliability and implementing innovation. Thunderbird Leadership’s Managing Partner, Amy Steinbinder, PhD, RN, NE-BC, agreed to tell us about her work supporting nurse leaders during these turbulent times. Amy describes it this way, “ demands within the nursing profession and within the healthcare industry are constantly in whitewater. All the rapids are a 10 right now.”

Amy asked herself, “ How do you maintain your balance and sense of self when things are literally swirling all around you?” And her answer was to develop the Resilient Nurse Leader Coaching Series.


“ I’d like to be able to assist people to strengthen their own leadership and resiliency – with the goal of personal and professional resilience while achieving career aspirations.”

The Resilient Nurse Leader Coaching Series is focused and targeted because nurse leaders have a tremendous amount of expertise and operational influence in directing patient care delivery. At the same time, there is this growing level of burnout among nurses. The Resilient Nurse Leader Coaching Series supports nurse leaders who then support the thousands of nurses who impact hundreds of thousands of patients every day!”

Amy described a current client who is dealing with the complexity of implementing new technologies and adding building locations while still sustaining high reliability patient care, getting people paid and adapting to continuous innovation and change. She said, “leaders are not only stretched thin but on a stretching rack – pulled in so many directions. How do they maintain their own core strength so they can be effective in their personal and professional lives?”

In 2016, Amy and a small group of content experts [2] convened to identify which of all the competencies would be most impactful for a nurse leader over a career in today’s and tomorrow’s healthcare environment. Their combined experience as Nursing Executives, CEO’s, Chief Integration Officers, COO’s and consultants to large scale organizational change provided them with inside and outside perspectives on the future of healthcare leadership. They identified five competencies they thought were most critical.

The most interesting one for me is “minding the gap.” In every organization there is so much that is occurring, so much is untested. How do you balance the untested, the innovation, at the same time as we focus on high reliability? This requires being aware of what can fail, what failure looks like and watching for early warning signs, subtle flags that alert you to potential failure. So individual teams and organizations can respond quickly and move forward.

Nurse leaders need to be asking questions – such as if we failed in this project, what would have had to happen…so you can back it up – to look at what we need to be paying attention to; having agreement on what we would do, how we would address red flags if they emerged. This does not mean we think we are going to fail, but we are preoccupied with what could go wrong – so we can be timely in response…going back to resilience so you can learn and recover quickly.