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I recently completed an assignment for my DNP Role Transitions class. The assignment was a creative review of a leadership book review. I received very positive feedback regarding this, and was encouraged to try and publish it. Not sure where I should try and publish it, but I do think it deserves a place on the my new blog site through the DNP Online Community.
Cupcakes... leading the way!
Leading the world with cupcakes? This paradox of words had been staring at me at work for months. My director had given me the odd titled book, Hey Cupcake! We are all leaders by Liz Jazwiec (2012) several months ago, and for some reason it never made it home. My coworkers had all read it, and could not stop referencing it. I had used my excuse stating that I was too busy. While packing for Lubbock, I glanced at the book again. This time I looked at it differently (could be that I was hungry, and I was staring at a cupcake on the cover), and I took it with me thinking it was an opportune time for some light and calorie free reading.
I could have kicked myself for not reading this book sooner. I had already spent hours reading various “leadership books”, all of which made important statements about engagement and team building. Their points, though valid, were not what I considered real as I could not specifically relate to them. This was not the case with Cupcake! We are all leaders. The key leadership tactics were simply laid out, paving the way for inspiration.
The book’s author, Liz Jazwiec, draws from her 25 years of nursing and corporate experiences to demonstrate methods for service and organizational excellence based on improved employee morale. The book initially explains the odd title during the Introduction. According to the author, the word is one of endearment, but one that aptly describes most leaders. When I think of cupcakes, I think that they are warm and sweet, but often messy if the wrapper is off. She relates that many leaders are like the sweet desserts, but that different tactics
are often needed to inspire and lead. She uses the Cupcake reference along with several other colorful images to communicate lessons learned during her tenure in various nursing leadership positions.
The premise is simple. Identifying and understanding the need for change is essential. Jazwiec’s realistic humor engages and assists the reader to recognize why change is difficult. She uses stories ranging from pink bathrobes haunting her to monkeys refusing to let go of their precious bananas to communicate our inherit difficulties of letting go and moving on. As leaders we must encourage forward movement and recognize our tendencies to harbor the past. Dropping our past negativity (or bananas) helps us let go to make life easier and a lot more fun.
Letting go of the past is important, but to move forward is essential. The author explains several needed components to embrace change. First, she states that we must be willing to accept positivity and “let in the good” (Jazwiec, 2012, p. 23). Sounds easy, right? Wrong. As I was reading, I knew how guilty I have always been about dismissing positivity. How was I supposed to encourage others when I had a hard time accepting it myself?
Jazwiec conveys that once we let in the good, we are then posited for positive change. But, how often do we stop going forward when the going gets tough? How do we encourage others to keep going when everything seems hopeless? The “Valley of Despair” (Jazwiec, 2012, p. 28), a term used in change management, is a place leaders often lose faith. Jazwiec encourages leaders to plan for such obstacles. She suggests allowing teams to recognize where they are in the change process, and to foster support by reminding them of their collaborative goals (Jazwiec, 2012, p. 34).
Jazwiec segues to the topics of buy-in and teamwork conveying that leaders must recognize that these are not strategies, but rather, they are results. She stresses the importance of accountability as the only way to change bad behavior or reinforce great behavior.
The author references the leadership term “BARF” (Belief, Action, Result, and Faith) throughout the pages, and indicates that successful change comes from the use of these principles (Jazwiec, 2012, p. 39). She references several personalities such as Evil Queens, Wicked Poisoners, Red-headed Stepchildren, and Calamity Janes to convey their negative impact teams. Each have their own peculiarities, but they all need to be addressed firmly, held accountable, or moved out of an organization.
I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the author’s candid remarks about smart hiring and firing of personnel. She recommends specific tactics for use during interviews to determine how well an individual will fit with a team. Teams need positivity and integrity. It is essential that those hired will not jeopardize either.
The book closes with discussions of managing up, speaking up, and learning from one’s own mistakes. I have to admit that as a leader, I have been exposed to these topics, but I have been too narrow-minded to grasp the full implications of each. Managing up, a simple tactic of verbally endorsing another employee can stimulate a cascade of events, increasing positivity for the entire team. Speaking up, though sometimes difficult, encourages everyone to simply state what they need and why. Just imagine how easy things could be if we used this simple premise. Lastly, Jazwiec reminds us that we only learn by making mistakes. If we can reflect, and learn to laugh from our errors, we not only demonstrate humility, but also exude a conviction towards excellence.
While reading this book, it was all too easy to reflect on my past leadership pitfalls. From harboring negativity to resisting change, this cupcake has done it all. However, I know that my conviction to lead and support the growth of nursing is possible with the DNP.
Cupcake! We are all leaders! was not only a great read, but a wonderful way to reflect and learn about leading, changing, and supporting an environment of excellence. A simple, yet profound book that should be a required read for the DNP student. Cupcake, We are all leaders! resonates real truths about change, including inherent difficulties that hinder progress. Leaders, just like Cupcakes, can crumble under pressure. To overcome this, we must create an environment of support with the DNP at the helm; guiding and nurturing evidence-based practices that current nursing leaders need to elicit changes in today’s healthcare system.
Jazwiec, L. (2012). Hey cupcake! We are all leaders. Gulf Breeze, FL: Fire Starter Publishing.