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Nurse leaders play a valuable role in ensuring patients receive quality care in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. This involves being able to manage medical teams and create an environment that focuses on providing patients with excellent care. Successful nurse leaders need to develop the right skills, and knowing more about leadership qualities in nursing can help you understand what to expect if you’re to excel in this role.

Importance of Leadership in Nursing

Leadership in nursing has a significant impact on healthcare quality. Nurse leaders are responsible for overseeing medical teams and ensuring effective communication among team members. These leaders also ensure that patients and their families receive guidance and education on health conditions and have their questions and concerns addressed by medical staff. This kind of leadership helps healthcare facilities run as smoothly as possible, which benefits patients, their families and staff members. Keep in mind that nurses need to work on building and improving leadership skills in order to be an effective leader.

What Makes a Good Nurse Leader?

There are a variety of leadership skills in nursing, and an effective nurse leader must hone all of them. While some of these skills might come naturally, others are learned over time. Effective nurse leaders work hard to maintain these qualities and improve them as needed. Examples of leadership in nursing might include being skilled at handling conflicts between staff members in a supportive manner. Nurses might also show leadership through the way they communicate with patients, such as answering tough questions about a medical condition in a kind and compassionate way. Leaders also trust their education, experience, and intuition which allows them to feel confident in their nursing skills in a multitude of healthcare scenarios.

Qualities for Effective Nursing Leadership

When your career goals include becoming a nurse leader, it’s important to be aware of the qualities you’ll be expected to possess. These qualities are all part of being an effective leader in a healthcare setting. Healthcare facilities can be challenging environments to work in, so having the right leadership skills is essential to properly handle problems and difficulties. The following are some of the skills you’ll need if you want to have a successful career as a nurse leader.


Nurse leaders sometimes act as representatives for a hospital or other healthcare facility. These nurses might be the person that executive leaders and others turn to for information on the facility and its services. Nurse leaders need to have a professional attitude and handle these types of interactions skillfully. This skill can be developed during school, as well as on the job while interacting with others.

Communication Skills

Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is one of the most important qualities for nursing leadership. Nurse leaders need to be able to discuss medical issues in an informative yet caring way with patients and family members. They also need to communicate with other nurses and healthcare professionals, as well as hospital executives, on a regular basis. Those who want to be nurse leaders can develop good communication skills while still in school. As a nurse leader, they can continue improving this skill to ensure effective communication.

Dedication to Excellence

Nurses in general should strive to provide high-quality care, but nurse leaders need to go above and beyond. Nursing leadership involves being committed to excellence in all areas of the role, since nurse leaders have a direct impact on the overall quality of care a patient receives. A dedication to excellence requires the highest quality care for patients and the creation and maintenance of a healthcare environment that benefits patients and staff alike.

Emotional Intelligence

Nurse leaders need to be emotionally intelligent to handle the challenges faced in healthcare settings. This skill enables them to provide support during difficult times in order to prevent staff from becoming burned out or emotionally exhausted. Emotional intelligence is also a valuable skill when interacting with patients. Emotionally intelligent nurse leaders can discuss medical conditions, treatment, and potential complications or risks with patients in a tactful and compassionate manner. This is a skill that nurses can develop over time, whether they’re still in school or on the job.


Motivation is a crucial part of being an effective nurse leader. Staying motivated makes it possible for leaders to inspire staff, comfort patients, and ensure that healthcare departments or facilities are running as efficiently as possible. Nursing, in general, can be a highly stressful career. Nurse leaders need motivation to keep them thriving and avoid becoming overwhelmed. With the right amount of motivation, these leaders can focus on achieving goals and enjoying a challenging yet rewarding healthcare career.


Nurse leaders must be willing to take responsibility when problems occur. As leaders, they should hold themselves accountable and take steps to correct the issue or avoid it in the future. Nurse leaders should consider errors opportunities for improvement. Being accountable means a willingness to closely examine failures to find ways to prevent it from reoccurring. Rather than placing the blame elsewhere, nurse leaders demonstrate leadership through accountability.


Leadership in nursing involves feeling comfortable delegating tasks and responsibilities to others. Nurse leaders must delegate to ensure that the department and facility runs smoothly. Instead of seeing delegation as a weakness, they should consider it a strength. It is a wise, and often necessary, move that helps healthcare facilities provide high-quality care. Being able to effectively delegate involves getting to know the skills and experience that each team member offers.

Empower Others

Nurse leaders have the opportunity to empower others through their leadership. They should take this opportunity to encourage and support other nurses and healthcare professionals. Empowering others provides an array of benefits for healthcare facilities, perhaps most importantly, improved outcomes for patients due to higher quality care. This empowerment also leads to improved job satisfaction among nurses and other healthcare professionals, which helps reduce turnover and boosts morale. Nurse leaders can empower others by ensuring they have a chance to voice concerns and helping them handle change in healthcare environments.


Nurse leaders need a well-developed self-awareness to succeed in this role. Being self-aware can help these leaders focus on personal and professional growth, making them more effective leaders. Through self-awareness, nurse leaders can recognize their strengths and weaknesses and devise plans for improvement. These leaders can work on becoming more self-aware while they’re still in nursing school and continue developing this skill on the job.

Support Your Staff

Being a nurse leader means giving staff the support they need to provide high-quality care. The way nurse leaders support staff might change from one situation to the next, depending on the challenges staff members are facing. For example, nurse leaders might provide emotional support to nurses who are feeling overwhelmed or burned out. They might provide practical and professional support when it comes to handling conflict.

Adapt to Change

Change is a given in healthcare environments, so it’s important for nurse leaders to be able to adapt accordingly. Adaptability is critical for a nurse leader t accommodate the frequent changes that occur in hospitals and other healthcare settings. This involves being able to evaluate situations and determine what changes that need to be made. Nurse leaders can expect to have plenty of practice with developing this skill on the job.

If you’re planning to become a nurse leader, please visit American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Science at Post University. Our school offers a Master of Science in Nursing — Organizational Leadership Specialization to help you develop leadership skills.