How to Have Good Leadership in Nursing

While in school, most nurses learn the clinical procedures that are necessary to be good at their jobs. They also learn how to communicate with patients and families, and how to follow orders and instructions from physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. Leadership skills are not often taught in nursing school, but they are important to nurse's career and reputation. Nurses lead patients out of illness and into wellness, families out of confusion and into understanding. They also mentor and lead nurses who are new to the profession. Have good leadership in nursing by developing your personal leadership skills and bringing them into the workplace.


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    Identify yourself as a leader. Many nurses see their roles as deferential to doctors and other practitioners. Make sure you understand and embrace the role leadership plays in your career.
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    Demonstrate confidence. Self-confidence is essential to a nurse's leadership skills.
    • Understand what you need to do and approach every patient with a confident and competent attitude. If you come across as nervous and unsure, your patients will also feel anxious.
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    Have courage. Good leaders are willing to take calculated risks, and as a nurse your leadership depends on your ability to take those risks. Playing it safe will not develop you into a nurse leader.
    • Share ideas. Let doctors and colleagues know what you think about the care that patients are receiving and if you have an idea, speak up.
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    Communicate clearly and consistently, and remember to listen. Whether you are talking to patients, doctors, family members or other nurses, be mindful of how you communicate.
    • Listen first, and respond directly and truthfully. If you cannot answer a question, say so. If you promise to do something, do it. Good communication will develop leadership and trust.
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    Pay attention to professional growth. Take classes, courses and seminars that go beyond those you are required to take to maintain your nursing license.
    • Look for opportunities to learn new skills. Try a business or management class, or attend a leadership conference.
    • Encourage any nurses you supervise to grow professionally. Recommend classes that might interest your staff. When other nurses see you investing in your own learning, they might do the same.
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    Manage your time well. Prioritize your tasks and responsibilities wisely. For example, you do not want to keep a patient waiting while you open mail or file charts that can be dealt with later.
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    Lead by example. Be the best, most knowledgeable and talented nurse you can be. Other nurses around you will take note and mimic your demeanor, skills and leadership.
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    Find a mentor of your own. Having good leadership skills as a nurse means learning them from many different sources.
    • Ask a nurse you admire for some coaching. Pay attention to the nurses that you work closely with, especially those who impress you.
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    Stay current in the profession. Read nursing journals, subscribe to e-newsletters and join professional nursing associations.
    • Keep up with the latest best practices in leadership as well. Read books and articles about leadership, even if those materials are not specific to nursing. There is a lot to be learned from business and nonprofit leadership theories.


  • Remember that your leadership style must fit with the organization you are working with. How you lead a staff of nurses in a hospital setting might be very different than how you conduct yourself while assisting a doctor in the exam room. Good leaders are flexible.
  • Consider the difference between leadership and management. Not all excellent managers are good leaders. Leadership comes from your confidence, ability to communicate and set a good example for others. Keep the long term strategy in mind even as you are managing day-to-day responsibilities.

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Categories: Aged Care