Think of an effective and strong leader, which qualities come to mind? Leadership in nursing is a hugely important role in the healthcare industry that requires a strong set of skills and qualities including general and emotional intelligence, adaptability, conscientiousness, and assertiveness. The best leaders tend to be individuals who radiate positivity and can inspire and empower others naturally. They place a high value on their team members and are motivated to inspire the people that they work with to be the best that they can be. Whether you are considering moving up in your nursing career to work in a management or supervisory role, get into nurse education, work as a nurse practitioner and start your own healthcare practice, or another leadership role in healthcare, leading other people is a part of your career that you will not be able to escape. So, do you have what it takes to become an effective leader, and what can you do to improve on them?
The good news is that leadership is something that we can all learn and develop. Even if you have little leadership experience so far, chances are that you have a lot of the qualities that make a good leader, especially if you have experience as a registered nurse. Lots of the qualities that are essential for a successful career as a nurse will easily transfer into leadership including adaptability, empathy, communication skills, and a willingness to learn new things. Some of the most important qualities for leaders in nursing include:
If you are already working as a nurse or want to become a nurse in the future and have done a lot of research into the career, you will know that empathy is going to be one of the most important qualities that you can possess. Empathy is a trait that allows you to put yourself in your patients’ shoes when you are dealing with them directly and gives you a compassionate outlook on their pain or reactions as you are able to imagine how you’d feel, think, and act if you were in the same situation as them – even if you have never previously experienced it. When you work in a nurse leadership role after completing this online MSN to DNP program, you will not only be working directly with patients but also other healthcare employees that you will be responsible for. You may be the first point of call for registered nurses, HCAs, and other healthcare professionals who are experiencing an issue at work or have questions, and you’ll need to handle this with as much empathy as you afford your patients.
A good nurse leader is an individual with a lot of compassion towards everybody, including their patients and the employees that they manage. In this role, you will need to be able to view other people compassionately and in a holistic way. This is an area where your emotional intelligence will definitely come in useful as you understand that people are complex and know that being compassionate and kind, even when you need to make decisions that not everybody may agree with, is the best way to inspire others and make the process easier for everybody involved. You will need to develop the skill of making decisions with compassion and taking everybody into account when you need to decide something while making sure that patient wellbeing and care are a top priority.
Nurses need to be very organized at every level of this career to ensure that they can divide their time successfully between patients and tasks. If you are a nurse and want to get into a position of leadership, you will definitely benefit from taking steps to improve your organizational skills even more. One great way to improve your organizational skills while preparing for a nursing leadership role is to study for your advanced nursing degree online. There are many online advanced nursing degree options that are flexible and self-led, which allow you to continue working full-time while you study. Along with having a lower opportunity cost and plenty of benefits for students, this can also push you to become even more organized as you juggle your time between several different commitments.
If you want to become a successful nurse leader, then it’s important to be an excellent communicator. If you are already working as a registered nurse, then you will already be aware of the importance of great communication skills in this line of work. Nurses communicate with lots of different people throughout the working day, and being able to communicate clearly and effectively, along with the ability to adapt their communication style based on the person that they are communicating with, is extremely necessary for success. Along with this, nurses need to be excellent listeners and skilled at understanding non-verbal communication to help them get as much information as possible from patients in order to ensure that they are provided with the right treatment and care. In a nurse leadership role, communication is arguably even more important since you will be communicating important decisions and instructions from higher up to healthcare employees and nurses. Ensuring that this is communicated clearly is crucial since miscommunications can lead to serious consequences for patients and healthcare organizations overall.
Many nurse leaders and managers will also take on a mentorship role. Another type of nurse leader position that you may be considering is a nurse educator. However, senior nurses are often all hands-on when it comes to training new nurses and helping them excel in their education. Whether you work as a nurse educator at a college or university or are a nurse leader in a hospital or other healthcare setting where nursing students come to learn, it’s important to have excellent mentorship skills. Your mentorship skills will also be useful when you are working with new nursing graduates who have started working in a full-time professional role for the first time. Nurse leaders need to be able to work well with people who are new to nursing and require some additional support to successfully built their confidence, experience, and expertise in their job.
It is important for nurses to be dedicated to their job. Most nurses, at every level, have a strong commitment to providing the best care for their patients. When you work in a nurse leadership role, you will have even bigger responsibilities. When you work in nursing leadership, these responsibilities grow even further and you will not only be responsible for the patients that you are dealing with directly, but for the teams that are under your direct supervision for providing care to patients. As a nurse leader, you will need to be dedicated to your career and the success of your team. Nurses at all levels also need to be dedicated to working with integrity and always doing the right thing to make sure that patients are always provided with the highest standards of care.
In your role as a nurse leader, you will quickly find that this career involves much more than just giving out instructions to other nurses and healthcare professionals under your management. To make the best impact on the healthcare organization and the people that you work with, nurse leaders need to have the ability to inspire others and help them reach their best potential. As a good nurse leader, you need to be ready to put a lot of faith and trust in your team to do the right thing, be a shining example of professionalism and care, and offer support and mentorship when it is needed.
If you are already working as a nurse, you’ll know that you need to be mentally tough to work in this role. Nurse leaders need to be dedicated to self-care and building up their resilience as they are often at the heart of making difficult decisions, in often heart-breaking situations. Nurses have to be some of the toughest and most resilient people in the world, with most nurses and nurse leaders seeing and dealing with situations that the general public will mostly never get to experience. The risk of developing problems like post-traumatic stress disorder is real when you are working at any level of nursing, so it is important to go into this profession with an open mind and a willingness to put yourself first to make sure that you remain mentally strong enough to deal with the challenges of the job. Additionally, as a nurse leader, you will also need to be there to support other nurses and healthcare professionals through situations where the work that they do is having an impact on them. Nurse leaders are often not only dedicated to caring for their own mental strength and wellbeing but helping others build more resilience too.
If you want to move up in your career from registered nursing to nurse leadership, these are some of the most important qualities that you can focus on building further.