The top skills you need to master to become a successful nursing leader

The top skills you need to master to become a successful nursing leader

As the nursing industry continues to expand, the need for qualified nursing leaders is also growing. Nursing leaders are responsible for the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities and serve as essential liaisons between hospital administrators and other nurses.

One of the most challenging aspects of becoming a nurse leader is communicating with people from different backgrounds and levels in the organization. To become a successful nursing leader, you must share your ideas and develop a rapport with your colleagues.

You must also be able to manage tasks efficiently without getting bogged down in the details. Nursing leadership roles require specific skills and organizational abilities that you should develop before you’re ready to move into the position on a full-time basis.

Nursing leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and they are often highly accomplished in various areas to meet the challenges of their jobs. If you wish to succeed as a nursing leader, here is a look at the skills you will need to master.

An overview of nurse leadership

Nurse leadership is a term used to describe the various roles that nurse leaders play in providing direction, mentorship, and guidance to other nurses and healthcare professionals.

These roles include organizational leadership, clinical nursing management, nursing services administration, and research. These skills are necessary for people who are interested in obtaining higher-level positions such as those that provide quality assurance or oversight of organizations.

As with any profession, developing all the skills needed for success takes time. For career advancement, you can pursue an online course in nursing leadership as you continue in your current job as a registered nurse.

There are many ways to study in the field, including taking classes from accredited universities, participating in seminars, and reading books on the topic.

Taking care of yourself is also essential to realizing your full potential. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and taking regular daily breaks.

8 skills nursing leaders need to master for success

Becoming a nursing leader takes years of hard work and dedication to your career, but it is certainly not impossible. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, nursing leaders must keep pace with the changes to provide the best possible care to patients.

Nursing leaders must master these eight skills if they want to succeed at their job and demonstrate excellence in clinical and leadership skills.


One of the essential skills nursing leaders need to master is decision-making. With so many demands on their time and so many important decisions to make, nursing leaders must be able to prioritize and make sound decisions promptly.

For example, they might have to decide whether they can afford to increase staffing levels at a hospital that is running at full capacity. They might also have to determine how much staff should be present during morning rounds or how often patients should receive wound care treatments.

If a nurse leader does not have good decision-making skills, they will find it difficult to solve problems. This type of leader must know when it is appropriate to delegate tasks and when it’s appropriate to take them on themselves.

It is essential for nurses who want to become leaders within their field to know their strengths and which tasks suit them best. This assessment will ensure they don’t struggle with something that doesn’t come naturally.

Collaboration & flexibility

Collaboration refers to the act of working together with someone. Nurses must work with other nurses, physicians, case managers, and patients to provide excellent care.

These professionals must also be able to work well on teams of various sizes. In addition, they must be able to collaborate with external partners such as vendors or agencies, as well as their staff members.

There are several different approaches to collaboration, including:

  • Complete system integration: This requires team members to clearly understand the overall goal and how each member fits into it.
  • System transformation: This relies heavily on data analysis and changes based on evidence-based practice.
  • Transformational leadership: This focuses on making strategic decisions about the organization.

By collaborating effectively with your colleagues and external partners, you will be more successful at your job and increase employee morale.

Flexibility means that you are willing and able to adapt or change quickly in response to circumstances. Nurses should always remain flexible to meet their patients’ needs as they arise.

They also need flexibility in their thinking regarding different approaches and philosophies. Nurse leaders must also stay flexible with shifts, hours, staff changes, and vacations.

The ability to perform under high pressure

As a nursing leader, you will often find yourself in high-pressure situations. Whether it’s dealing with a staffing shortage or responding to an emergency, you need to be able to think quickly and make decisions under pressure.

The quicker you can make decisions under pressure, the better your chances are of coming out on top. Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. Every day, practice making quick decisions and evaluating the outcomes of those decisions.

If your decision doesn’t work out, learn from your mistake so you’ll know what to do differently the next time you are faced with the same situation. That way, you will be less likely to panic and make the wrong decision.

Problem-solving skills

As a nursing leader, your team and job profile expect you to solve problems daily. This can involve everything from handling conflict between staff members to finding solutions to budget constraints.

In most cases, the solution is not easy and takes time and effort to work out. If you have the right personality traits and skills, problem-solving is an essential leadership skill that can help you succeed as a nurse leader.

There are many types of problem-solving strategies that you can draw upon, depending on the situation. Some plans are better than others. For example, brainstorming may be best if you need a quick solution to get back on track. However, if you want more options or to find the root cause of a problem, it may be best to analyze or prioritize tasks.

No matter which strategy you choose, it is vital that you fully understand what kind of information your team needs before moving forward. Doing so will ensure that team members can provide their input without confusion.


In a nutshell, empathy refers to the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It also means being compassionate and understanding.

As a nursing leader, you need to be able to empathize with your staff. You must understand and share their feelings to create a positive work environment.

Being empathetic can also build trust and respect among your team. Nursing leaders need this skill to work with their teams effectively, and it’s a core skill that all nursing leaders should learn.

This skill can be challenging to master, but nursing leaders can start by listening more and taking some time to read about the history of others. You can look at people directly when talking, maintaining eye contact and making other gestures.

Another way to practice your empathy skills is by asking open-ended questions. These questions will help you uncover any additional information about the situation and allow for greater understanding by all parties involved.

Expert communication skills

You will need to be an expert communicator as a nursing leader. That means communicating effectively with patients, families, doctors, and other nurses.

You must be able to listen attentively and respond accordingly. Effective communication will ensure that your patient is getting the best care possible.

Communication is vital in ensuring that all your staff members are on the same page and work together to meet your organization’s goals. In addition, good communication skills are necessary when any conflicts or issues arise among staff members.

Your team members need to know that they can turn to you if they have concerns about something without fear of retaliation. Good communication skills will make it easier to identify problems before they escalate into significant issues.

Expertise in clinical matters

Expertise in clinical matters means having a solid understanding of evidence-based practice, clinical guidelines, and patient safety protocols. For example, if you work as a hospital manager, you might need to know how to manage infections or perform root cause analysis.

If you are a director of nursing, you would need to know how to provide dementia care or assess residents’ levels of pain. Knowledge in these areas is crucial in ensuring your staff provides high-quality care while following appropriate policies.

The more knowledgeable you are about clinical practices, the better you will be able to handle any situation with confidence. You can also teach other employees about these topics through speaking engagements or mentorship.

A practical nursing leader is knowledgeable about the latest healthcare trends, manages high volumes of patients, and can implement changes without hesitation. It also means you can solve problems, prioritize tasks, and provide excellent care for the patients on your team.

Conflict resolution

As a nursing leader, you will inevitably face conflict. Whether it’s between staff members, patients, or family members, you must know how to resolve disputes effectively.

One good approach is letting the person with the most insight speak first and then asking open-ended questions until they feel heard. This strategy aims to get to the root of the problem so you can solve it together.

For example, imagine there is a conflict between two nurses about who should take call shifts on weekends. You could have each nurse tell their side of the story and then let them come up with an agreement together.

Both sides will be satisfied because they got what they wanted. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the best approach to conflict resolution is not always consensus.

It’s important to note that sometimes a win-win situation isn’t possible. In these cases, focus on finding a solution that leaves everyone feeling respected and acknowledged.

Tips to improve the skills of a nurse leader

It is essential to keep your skills sharp and stay up to date on the latest management trends to keep your team motivated and productive. Here are the most important ways to boost your nursing leadership skills so you can climb the success ladder in the field.

Review existing skills

If you want to be a better nursing leader, the first step is to take an inventory of the skills you already have. The next thing to do is figure out what skills you need more of to become an even better leader.

One way of accomplishing this is by reflecting on past experiences that can teach valuable lessons. For example, let’s say you had difficulty resolving conflict with a staff member during your previous job as a nurse manager. Reflect on what led up to the problem and how you could have handled it differently. Then, talk with other nurses to find out what they would have done differently.

Consider mentorship

One of the best ways to improve your nursing leadership skills is to find a mentor. A mentor can help you learn the ropes, offer guidance and support, and give you an objective perspective.

In addition, mentorship can be a great way to network and build relationships within the industry. Look for people who are more experienced than you, and get in touch with them to share knowledge.

You may not only end up with a new friend, but also with better insights into how to become a more effective leader.

Acquire training

Acquiring the proper training can include taking classes, attending seminars, or even pursuing a degree in nursing administration. Increasing your knowledge will better equip you to handle the challenges of a leadership role.

Join an organization

Joining an organization will enable you to access resources, support, and networking opportunities, which can all help you develop as a leader. Moreover, being part of a professional community can help keep you motivated and inspired in your career.

Wrapping up

Being a successful nursing leader requires a unique set of skills. Although some of these skills may come to certain people naturally, you can develop others over time.

Many resources are available to help aspiring leaders hone their skills, including books, conferences, mentorships, and workshops. The good news is that anyone can become a successful nursing leader with the right mix of dedication and hard work.