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'As a leader, it’s not about you. It’s about the team.'

To celebrate the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, we have launched a series of interviews with leaders in the sector. Chief executive of the QNI Crystal Oldman kicks off the project by telling us what leadership means to her, as well as what the QNI has in store for 2020.

What are the priorities for the QNI in the year ahead? 

There are three things. One is to help all nurses to articulate their value.  

The second is to celebrate our heritage and connection with Florence Nightingale. She was the adviser to our founder, and we have lots of documentation that confirms her connection with the QNI in creating the standards and the education for nurses working in the community. We’ve got an event in June up in Liverpool to celebrate that, because that’s where were founded.

The third is around data and evidence. Again, that goes back to Florence Nightingale - the great statistician - and ensuring that we develop and build on our launch of the International Community Nursing Observatory (ICNO). By the end of the year, with our data and evidence, we will have a model of district nursing that we will be able to share with whoever is delivering district nursing services. Something we’d be able to benchmark against, something where we can say ‘this is quality’ or this isn’t in our services. The majority of that is going to be based on the ICNO work around data and evidence, around workloads and caseloads. 

What does leadership mean to you?  

Having a collective vision created with your team and potentially services users if you have those as well. The vision should show where the organisation is hearing or where nursing is heading, depending on what you're leading. 

Lead with absolute integrity, professionalism and transparency. You keep in communication with everybody about what it is that you’re doing, and you continue to share an honest message all the time. 

Recognise that you can only be a great leader if you have a great team. I know that sounds glib, but it’s true. It is never, ever about one person. It’s always about what you do as that leader with the tearm or service you are leading.  

Stay true to a single focus. For me, that’s better patient care. No matter what you’re thinking about in the day job at the QNI, no matter what we do, we have a really good way of checking back with see what difference whatever we are doing makes to communities, to individuals, to carers, to families that are being cared for by nurses in the community.  

What has been your sharpest learning curve as a leader?  

Not all leaders meet my expectations. Not everybody has the same thought processes around integrity, professionalism, honesty and transparency.  

What advice do you hope your mentees in nursing and leadership will always remember?  

Having that single focus. As a leader, it’s not about you. It’s about the team that you’re leading and the purpose of that team. As a nurse, think about why you are a nurse and what the purpose of your role is.  

What are your interests and hobbies outside of nursing?  

I don’t have any time, but I absolutely love my garden! I love gardening and I will do as much of it as I possibly can, but I don’t get enough time to do it.