Know Your Leader

Leila McKinney, DNP, MSN, APRN, NP-C

Current job: President, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Atlanta campus

Family: "My husband and I have been married for 12 years, raising a large blended family that includes my three adult sons: 26, 24 and 22; his 20-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter; and our 4-year-old son. Our first grandchild will be born in September."

What makes a good leader? "I think good leadership should not be made more complicated than it needs to be. Lead by example, remain flexible and approachable, hire the right people and trust them to do what they were hired to do. Every hiring decision is just as much a commitment on my part as it is on theirs.

“Transparent belief in people, with frequent acknowledgement of achievements, goes a long way toward increased team productivity.”

What are you most proud of in your career? "Perseverance and hard work really do pay off. Having dropped out of high school at 16 to start a family, statistically speaking, I should not have accomplished very much. I do not think there is anything extraordinary about me, except my drive and determination.

“I like to share my story with younger women who feel they have no chance of succeeding beyond what they have been told is their limit. The best message I can deliver stems from personal experience: fearless pursuit can equal limitless possibilities.”

Who has inspired or mentored you? "Fortunately, I never had to look far to find inspiration. It was a nurse who cared for me when I was a young single mother of three. She never judged, but instead held my hand while I waited for test results. She introduced me to the role that compassion and caring plays in nursing. A faculty member mentored me through difficult semesters and made sure I knew I was capable of being successful — even when I had my doubts. The support that she and many others in college demonstrated kept me from wavering when life became overwhelming."

What's your favorite thing to do away from work? "I enjoy family get-togethers whenever possible. Recently, I became interested in college football, so I am looking forward to football season this year. I also enjoy any activity that involves music, whether it's dancing, karaoke or listening to live music. And I play guitar when I have the time."

Who's your favorite fictional nurse? "Carol Hathaway, played by Julianna Margulies, from the TV series 'ER.' Carol is seen as a strong, yet flawed, nursing leader. Having worked for years in the emergency department myself, I thought that the producers of this series were smart to allow this character to remain real."

What's your favorite guilty pleasure? "I am an avid gamer, enjoying short app-based games like 'Angry Birds' and playing multiplayer online games such as 'Diablo III' and 'World of Warcraft' [WoW]. I was a beta tester for WoW in 2004 and have played regularly ever since."

Tell us something that nobody at work knows about you: "As a child, I was in several television commercials and magazine advertisements."

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Compiled by John Brieske, Pulse managing editor. Do you work with someone who’s an exceptional leader? If so, please send email to