Vulnerability Is Courage
“Sheena embodies what it means to be a love led leader and is such a genuine breath of fresh air! Her amazing warmth and ability to pull out the pieces of your story that you’ve been scared to show the world make her an incredible coach, supporter and friend! I am honoured to be in her world – she is one of a kind!”
Founder & CEO International Network of Nurse Leaders
“Today I framed this manifesto to remind myself and my team how important it is to not lose our humanity and how I choose to lead with bravery, authenticity and challenging the status quo.”
Emma Currie (middle) and her team
Red Deer Regional Hospital
Acute Care Manager – Renal, Diabetes and General Medicine
“Today I am hanging this in my office so my team knows how I aspire to lead and what I believe! I will be asking them for feedback on how I demonstrate the core pillars of #loveledleadership.“
Care Manager, Drumheller,
Elnora and Hanna Home Care
“There’s a positive increasing focus on compassionate leadership in health & care & there’s even a sense that we can even use the L word when we discuss leadership. So I enjoyed reading the thesis by Sheena Howard on “love-led leadership”.”
Chief Transformation Officer Horizons Group
Heather Pfohl Sutcliffe
RN, BScN, CDE
Interim Program Manager
Home and Community Care
Waterloo Wellington LHIN
“When I first discovered Sheena’s work, I found myself asking where this leadership framework had been over the course of my 28 year career. As an experienced nurse who had worked in several toxic workplaces with toxic leaders, and a mindset that “Nurses eat their young” that was alive and well, I found the concept of Love Led Leadership to be something that I welcomed with open arms. Finally, there was a name for the leadership style that I could embrace. No more toxicity, no more games, and no more eating our young. Very quickly, I wanted in on this global movement to to help change my beloved nursing profession for the better. I knew that this framework could be incredibly helpful in creating leaders that celebrated more open, authentic, brave and vulnerable workplaces. And that as women in my circle of friends and colleagues were looking for their workplaces to be authentic and vulnerable, we finally had a way forward.
There are several thought leaders that I turn to as guides/mentors in our rapidly changing health system. Sheena’s voice and presence is for me, a lighthouse beacon that helps me to navigate difficult conversations and leadership challenges more clearly. She will kindly yet strongly tweet to remind readers of the need for authenticity, for humility, for support and openness, for vulnerability, and in doing so knows that these pillars will create workplace cultures that are passionate and powerful. She will call out the toxic leadership group think and replace it with examples of small shifts that align with the framework of love led leadership, providing tangible ways to shift our practice. In a profession that is known for caring so deeply for our patients, Sheena provides a way forward that provides a framework that teaches us to deeply care for each other. What a welcomed change!
I am so grateful for her voice, for her experience and for her commitment to leading with love. I believe that we will be teaching love led leadership in our schools of nursing and will cherish her work in years to come as we do for many other nursing theorists before her. “
“Learning about Sheena’s research on Love Led Leadership helped me to see the authenticity and effectiveness of being a connected and vulnerable leader. I placed her manifesto on the outside of my office door so that all of our staff and volunteers can see it … and hold me accountable to it. They put themselves on the front lines of mental health care everyday, and that takes a toll on their wellbeing. I wanted them to see that I valued their work, I value their commitment to trauma-informed care and empathy, and that their self care is important to me. A nurturing, intraconnected work environment is a healthy one.”
Lisa Clarke, BA, MA
Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre
“Love Led Leadership is the exact philosophy we need in order to combat the burnout, fatigue and exhaustion facing leaders, especially nurse leaders, today. How can we expect to hide parts of ourselves at work and then show up differently at home or in our personal lives and not suffer crippling exhaustion and burnout? We must find the courage to show up authentically, with kindness and vulnerability as our guides, to lead ourselves and those around us into a brighter future. Love Led Leadership is the roadmap to getting back to ourselves and showing up as the kind of leaders the world needs right now.”
Founder & CEO International Network of Nurse Leaders
I was introduced to love led leadership at a time in my career when I was contemplating leaving the nursing profession altogether. The work had become routine, mundane and ‘lifeless’, which had not been the case for most of my 24 years in the profession. I used to bring so much energy and passion to the job and always cared deeply for my colleagues and the people who entrusted me with their care. I have no idea when the change occurred but believe it was a slow progressive decline after years of poor leadership, lack of self-care, decision-making by high level officials with no clue what was happening on the frontline, the politics of health care, a sense of helplessness to generate change, and advanced technology that has separated us further and further away from our clients and the human condition. Collectively all these factors gradually dulled my mind, body, and conscious spirit without any idea how to restore them. I thought by returning to school to become a nurse practitioner – a new focus and challenge- I would find more satisfaction in my practice. However, returning to school only provided a temporary distraction and before long the previous internal conflict returned, which only compounded the stress of assuming a new professional role and responsibilities. The building pressure began to impact me on a very deep and personal level, which led to a constant feeling of inadequacy, far from the confident and competent professional I had once been. The worst was the guilt I felt for not being there for my clients in a way that they deserved and trusted I would; I didn’t actually experience ‘burnout’, but rather I completely and utterly wore out. The best way to define Love Led Leadership is that it is the absolute opposite of every word spoken above – a process of rediscovery. It slowly but steadily restored my care, consciousness and compassion. It was liberating and allowed me to genuinely reconnect with my clients, colleagues, friends and families in a more meaningful way. All the while, Sheena supported my growth, answered my questions and gently directed me forward. I am forever indebt to Sheena for the joy that has returned to my life as a result of LLL as well as the newfound discoveries that I would never have uncovered without her counsel and support. If you relate to any part of my story, please DO NOT HESITATE to start the LLL program and begin your journey- back- today.
Sarah Noll WIlson
CEO//Chief Edge Officer
In my work as a leadership coach and consultant I come into contact daily with people who often talk a big game about their values but their actions tell a very different story. Then there are the authentic, high integrity few who live their values in a big way the person doesn’t need to repeat, Sheena is one of those few.
My path first crossed with Sheena and her work through the often impersonal world of social media, specifically Twitter. What made these interactions stand out was the level of empathy, curiosity, and compassion Sheena displayed. Our conversations often danced through the challenges we experience with ADHD and then expanded into a shared passion of leaders who care for the people they serve.
Months after knowing Sheena online I had the honor to connect with her in person. What became abundantly clear to me was that not only did she show up in alignment with her online words, the values she has outlined in her Love Led Leadership philosophy weren’t just important to her, it was in her DNA. She doesn’t just think these ideas are important. She lives them.
Her impact is far reaching and evident by the number of health care professionals who regularly post pictures of her Love Led philosophy in their offices. Giving up precious space to ensure this important anchor is with them every day. Her passion for helping leaders lean into their deepest levels of compassion and connection is inspiring. I have no doubt the world of health care, the world of leadership, and the world of humans is going to be profoundly transformed because of Sheena.
I was introduced to the concept of love-led leadership at a world café that Sheena held at the library. For the first time, I felt that a deep, elemental part of my practice had a name. In the rush to adopt a professional, evidence-based identity as a nurse, I learned to feel ashamed of feeling called to a vocation of Love. I learned to hide my vulnerability, my grief, and all the elements of care that were rooted in the personal. I even tried to obscure my queerness as much as possible in the workplace, because it felt like a liability. My spirit was called to the work, but I was afraid of saying so. I also felt limited by the demoralizing experiences of short-staffing and task-based care, which were a daily threat to the humanistic values I hoped to promote with patients and clients. I had been told in school that nursing was relational, but there were many days when I couldn’t even preserve the dignity and continence of my patients.
Discussing the concepts of love-led leadership with other health care providers was a revelation and an act of truth-telling. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone. I discovered that other health care workers had been maintaining a veneer of professional jargon over the beating heart of their love-led practice. During my consolidation placement, I had the privilege of being mentored in an office full of love-led leaders. My practice and confidence blossomed. I felt safe enough to be vulnerable, accountable, and authentic with my team and patients. This was a welcome change from my experiences in larger healthcare environments, in which I often felt fearful and judged. When I identified Love as a central tenet of my leadership style, I finally felt courageous enough to affect change.
Love-led leadership manifests in my daily practice both in and out of the office. When I attend public demonstrations and protests, my patients see that I care about their needs. When I address groups of university students, I awaken their potential to enact passion and empathy in their leadership across multiple disciplines, not just healthcare. I never cry after work anymore, even amid adversity, because I feel hopeful and brave enough to take risks for my patients.
BNSc, RN (qualifying)
Primary Care Nurse
Julie Robison, RN, BN
Home Care Manager
Change Agent, Boat Rocker,
Red Headed Mamma
I remember the moment that I read Sheena’s Love Led Leadership manifesto. It was one of those moments where you literally stop in your tracks. A moment where I felt so intimately connected with words on a page. In front of me was the collection of my beliefs as a leader. The words were coming off the page and speaking directly to my heart.
When I first discovered Love Led Leadership I was debating making a move into becoming a point of care manager. I knew the Love Led Leadership manifesto was a guiding approach that I would want to incorporate into my leadership as a new leader. As I’ve ventured into my new space I’ve had the opportunity to apply Love Led Leadership with my teams and with myself including how I lead team meetings, how I write and language emails, how I approach relationship building and even daily tasks of self-reflection and gratitude building.
One area it’s been particularly helpful is when I’ve had to engage in disciplinary conversations with my staff. After one particular crucial conversation with a staff member she thanked me for my empathy. She shared that although she knew she had done something wrong that I approached the situation in a way that held her accountable while still treating her with respect and dignity. This was key moment for me as I knew I was leading with love. It was a moment where I needed to be brave and courageous in order to be authentic in how I dealt with the situation.
Working with Sheena has been an incredibly positive experience for me. I’ve found her ability to approach situations with curiosity and kindness unlike any I’ve experienced before. She has a deep rooted passion to help people learn and grow. The Love Led Leadership manifesto has been a beckon of light for me as a new point of care leader. It has helped me to stay grounded in what I know resembles my true authentic leadership.
“In the community where I have worked and lived for the last 14 years, we have a crisis. Over one hundred thousand people do not have access to longitudinal primary care. Despite what we know about how longitudinal comprehensive care improves individual and community health outcomes, practitioners are burning out and abandoning this work, and new providers are not stepping up to replace them. This is because somewhere along the way, we have lost the essence of relationship based care.
I believe that the principles of love leader leadership have the power to bring us back to a place of valuing relationships in our everyday practices. This is desperately needed! In my relationships with my patients and my colleagues I try to bring passion, authenticity, and empathy to my interactions. I have found that in situations where there is tension, or even conflict, these principles have helped me come to a place of common ground and moving forward.
I met Sheena in the remote community of Masset on Haida Gwaii when we were both early in our health professions careers. As you can probably tell, Sheena’s presence instantly fills a room with warmth. Her bright eyes and fabulous smile are the outward manifestation of an amazingly authentic personality. Sheena practices nursing with a rare passion to advocate for each and every person she is in contact with. She holds her colleagues accountable to that model as well, with empathy. It is no wonder these form the core of her Love Led Leadership framework. I look forward to seeing how we can spread this model which is badly needed in healthcare now.”