Northwest Organization of Nurse Leaders News

September Leader Highlight

For September, we invited longtime NWONL supporter and Nursing Leadership Professional Dr. Barbara Mackoff to share her motivation and objectives for her new book and framework: Leadership Laboratory for Nurse Leaders. We are aligned with Barbara in her goal of supporting aspiring and seasoned leaders to reach the height of their leadership capabilities. Enjoy!

An Interview with the Author Of Leadership Laboratory for Nurse Leaders  Dr. Barbara Mackoff
 Dr. Barbara Mackoff is a Seattle-based consulting psychologist, author, and educator. She is a Fulbright specialist and a senior faculty member at The American Organization of Nursing Leaders. She created and facilitates AONL’S national online Leadership Laboratory. She is the author of The Inner Work of Leaders and Nurse Manager Engagement and served on the faculty of schools of nursing at Adelphi University and Molloy University and was a visiting scholar at Massachusetts General Hospital.

What was your motivation for writing this book?

One of my most spirited adventures has been creating a format– the leadership laboratory– as a way for nurses to capture and share instructive truths about their own experiences with each other. And then, to view these experiences through the lens of evidence-based leadership practice.
The book’s pages summarize ideas and examples from my work in teaching leader laboratories for over a decade. I also wanted to underline my belief in the resourceful power of peer wisdom. Every chapter is brimming with leaders’ stories and smart strategies. The book is my way of letting readers hear the voices and shiny ideas of so many of their colleagues. I should add that after working with AONL fellowships, for the last 14 years, I wanted to donate all of my royalties to scholarship funds to enable nurse leaders to attend.

How is this book different from other leadership texts?

The book is distinguished by its emphasis on reflection as it leads to leadership practice. Reflection allows learners to capture their lived experiences and hold them up to a light that illuminates emotional insights and best practices. In the book, I use prompts, paintings, literature, quotes, peer examples, and expert counsel to elicit self-reflection.
In teaching in nursing schools and healthcare organizations, I learned that personal reflections and storytelling could bring research literature in nursing, psychology, and anthropology to life.  Just as important: I have discovered that stories are sticky; stories beget stories. When we read –or listen to– peer leadership stories and reflections, we each recall our history and memories of learning to lead. Yet leaders do not develop by reflection alone. My goal is to guide readers to use their reflections to bridge smart strategies and enhance leadership practice.

Who would benefit from your book?

My goal was to create a learning experience that could be used in three ways: as an individual self-guided exploration of leadership, as a workbook for academic leadership courses, and as a template for healthcare organizations that want to create in-house leadership training. I hope aspiring and seasoned leaders will benefit from the research, reflective prompts, peer stories, and actionable strategies on the book’s pages.

If a Healthcare Organization wants to set up a leadership laboratory using this book– how would you recommend getting started?

To open a dialogue with a CNO or education director who wants to create their in-house laboratory (without an outside consultant), I would explain that the keys are peer leadership and creating a comfortable climate to ensure open expression. I recommend 6-8 sessions– each corresponding to another chapter in the book. I suggest that an in-house educational specialist convene groups of 15-20 nurse managers or 15-20 directors from various clinical specialties. Every participant would have read and completed exercises in one chapter of the Leadership laboratory for Nurse Leaders for each sessionA different peer facilitator would lead each group meeting for 90 minutes and would lead discussions to explore responses to the topic and encourage the exploration of peer best practices.

How would this book fit into an academic course on nursing leadership?

There would are two paths for a college or university program ways to use this text: First, it can be used as a supplementary handbook in a course that is grounded in general leadership textbook. A second application would be to use it as a text for an undergraduate or graduate course in leadership and emotional intelligence –along with a course packet featuring evidence based articles and chapters about leadership practice .It can be adopted as both an in person and online course.

What was the most inspiring part of writing this book for you?

I was so deeply moved by the storytellers on the book’s pages– the nurse leaders around the world who shared vivid experiences of their challenges, triumphs and strategies in learning to lead. The stories sing with vulnerability and authority; they translate theory into practice.

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You can purchase the Leadership Laboratory for Nurse Leaders at Amazon or any major book vendor.  Dr. Mackoff can be reached at