11 skills and qualities of successful nursing leaders

Just like any other industry, leadership in nursing is crucial and every nurse must fill that role irrespective of their job title or experience.

Nurses are expected to lead and manage patient care as soon as their training is complete. Certain essential leadership skills can help nurses out when they are at the beginning of their careers or have less experience.

With these skills, nurses will be able to respond to any challenge in their jobs more effectively. They also help open doors to new opportunities, giving nurses the option to take their careers to the next level. 

Before getting into the desired skills and qualities for becoming successful in a nursing leadership position, it is important to know what nursing leadership is. While in many cases nursing leaders have a position of authority, there are also unofficial nursing leaders that influence others to achieve their maximum potential. 

Read on for 11 of the most important skills and qualities that will help nurses become successful nursing leaders across the 39 compact nursing states.

1) Communication 

Strong verbal and written communication skills are essential for nursing leaders as it allows them to communicate effectively with others, including other nurses, patients and physicians. 

2) Teamwork and collaboration

Despite nursing leadership not always being an appointed position, nurse leaders are critical to any healthcare team. They must interact, communicate and help other members of the team to provide the best patient care. 

3) Open mind

Nursing is a profession requiring compassion for all, irrespective of cultural differences in society. Nurse leaders must be able to adapt their working styles to support diverse populations while being accepting of cultural differences. They must not be biased toward any culture, practice or community. 

4) Technologically sound

To become successful nursing leaders, nurses will need to keep up with changing technology. The introduction of electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical decision support (CDS) systems have changed the healthcare landscape drastically. Nurses must be capable of using these technologies efficiently and effectively so that they can offer the best possible care for their patients. 

5) Decision-making skills

An important quality in nursing leaders is decision-making skills. Nurses in leadership positions need to work quickly to come to a decision so that they can help their patients. Healthcare decisions need to be based on research and backed up with empirical science so that the best results can be achieved. However, it can be difficult to make these decisions when time is limited. 

6) Passion for education

Continued professional development (CPD) is another desired quality of successful nursing leaders. It allows nurses in leadership positions to keep up with the ever-changing healthcare environment. Nurses can strive for excellence with continued professional development courses such as online clinical nurse leader programs

Cleveland State University’s online Master of Science in Nursing is one such program that can help nurses gain the expertise required to oversee care for diverse patient populations and address the need to improve patient health outcomes. It is a 100% online program that will prepare nurses for the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) certification exam. 

7) Flexibility

The roles and responsibilities of nurses are constantly changing. Nursing leaders must be capable of adapting to new environments quickly. They must be confident in taking up new challenges. 

8) Leadership and management

Successful nursing leaders must have strong leadership and management skills. They must set goals, prioritize tasks and delegate responsibilities effectively. They must also be able to motivate and inspire their teams, build positive working relationships and manage conflict.

9) Clinical expertise

Nursing leaders must understand clinical best practices, including patient care protocols, medication administration and infection control.

10) Ethical decision-making

Nursing leaders must be committed to upholding ethical standards and making decisions that prioritize patient safety and wellbeing. They must be able to navigate complex ethical dilemmas and ensure that their team members act according to ethical principles.

11) Strong sense of empathy

Nursing leaders must be able to connect with patients and their families on a personal level and understand their needs, concerns and fears. It will help them provide patient-centered care and create a supportive and caring environment for patients and their families.

The importance of nursing leadership

Nursing leadership is essential in healthcare organizations as it promotes the delivery of high-quality patient care and enhances the working environment for nursing staff. Effective nursing leadership contributes to better patient outcomes, improved job satisfaction and retention of nursing staff and increased organizational effectiveness.

Nursing leaders are critical in ensuring that nursing practice is evidence-based and that nurses have the necessary resources to provide safe and effective care. They also help to develop and implement policies and procedures that support best practices and promote a culture of continuous improvement.

In addition to clinical responsibilities, nursing leaders are responsible for developing and managing budgets, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and promoting technology and innovation to enhance patient care. They also advocate for the nursing profession, promoting its importance in the healthcare system and ensuring nurses have a voice in decision-making processes.

Leadership in nursing is vital for the healthcare industry

In conclusion, leadership in nursing is vital for the healthcare industry, and every nurse should strive to be a leader, regardless of their job title or experience. Nursing leadership is not just about holding a position of authority but also about influencing and inspiring others to achieve their maximum potential. 

Nurses must possess various skills and qualities to be successful nursing leaders, including communication, teamwork and collaboration, a broad mindset, technological proficiency, decision-making skills, continued education, flexibility, leadership and management skills, clinical expertise, ethical decision-making and a strong sense of empathy. 

The importance of nursing leadership cannot be overstated, as it helps to promote the delivery of high-quality patient care and enhances the working environment for nursing staff. Healthcare organizations must invest in developing nursing leadership skills and promote the role of nursing leaders in shaping the future of healthcare. By doing so, they will ensure that the nursing profession continues to thrive and deliver the best possible care for patients.