Sheena Howard Young Photo

Putting patience and care back in patients care.

The Story Of

Sheena Howard

I’m perched on the carpet with the rest of my first-grade class mates, and our friend Kenny is having a bad day. He’s agitated and angry, on the verge of a tantrum, and distracting everyone in the room.  

“Kenny!”

Uh oh, the teacher’s angry, and that means we’re all going to get in trouble. I pick up my book and sit next to Kenny. He always calms down if someone sits close to him. So, I cuddle next to him and open up my book, pointing at the pictures and words, and he quietly looks at the book with me.

“Thank you, Sheena,” the teacher says, and continues on with the lesson.

Maybe she learned a lesson, too.

I’ve been a love-led leader since then, and, oh, how my life would be different if someone were to have articulated that to me all those years ago!

Instead, I grew up being criticized for my loving heart, being told that I was too friendly, too kind, too happy, too optimistic, and that I “care too much.” Of course, I internalized all of this and attempted to change, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop loving humans!

I went on to become a Registered Nurse—a career that would let me spend my professional life caring for others. I loved my job, but I came to discover that there were policies in place designed to take the feelings and emotions out of our work. I was expected to work more hours than my body could handle, spend more time on paperwork than with patients, and to be “more efficient” and focus on data, always considering risk and contingency planning.

And like many in the industry, I was quickly burning out.

A burnt-out leader is an ineffective leader. And burnout in the healthcare industry makes everyone suffer—especially patients, aka the people we signed up to care for.

As a healthcare professional, in a field where love of patients should be a primary focus, I was being forced to do more, be more, and feel less. I found myself in a system that values efficiency over love. And while you’re busy trying to manage risk efficiently, there’s a human being inside of you that simply wants to relate to these human beings on an emotional level.

“You can’t take the care out of nursing, but that’s what I felt was expected of me. I was to squish into a mold that didn’t feel right, adopting a robotic leadership style that was just not true to my heart.”

– Sheena Howard

My name is Sheena Howard, and I believe that people do their best work when they’re aligned with their truest values and strengths.

How can anyone do their best work when they’re being forced to adhere to a rigid leadership style that goes against their very nature?

During a master’s degree program in health leadership, I was asked to identify my own leadership style, but nothing that we were studying seemed to suit me…until I stumbled upon an article about love in leadership. That is when I experienced an epiphany—I am a love-led leader!

As a nurse, I had always been authentic and loving with my patients and in my interactions with my colleagues, but too often nurses and doctors are taught that love is a weakness and is not professional. I had been so used to hiding that I “care too much” that I had not embraced the simple truth that I am, to my very core, a love-led leader.

I am tired of battling the idea that love is weakness and that it’s not professional. I believe that love is strength.

Sheena Howard and Wife
Sheena Howard and Kids

Love is the answer to all of the problems in our healthcare industry, including personal and professional burnout.

It sounds so simple. Love is the root of all things, and love for others should be at the root of healthcare. But, sadly, we’ve moved away from embracing that essential piece, and we now have guilt-ridden, stressed, overworked, and underappreciated leaders across every single sector.

 I’m still helping the Kennys of the world today, on a larger scale. Because I’ve learned how to connect my career with my heart. If everyone were to do that, oh what a world it would be.

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Sheena Howard Love Led Leadership Thought Leader