What are the Qualities of a Nurse Leader?

Rising patient numbers result in growing pressure for health care organizations to operate efficiently. Educated and experienced nurse leaders are needed to manage teams, patient care, and promote organizational goals. Competencies needed by successful nurse leaders are gained via education, experience and mentoring.

What Makes a Good Nurse Leader

Leaders are individuals who positively influence how a group behaves. Good leaders are often characterized by:

  • Self-Awareness: the ability to read one's self and perceive aspects of our own personality, behavior, emotions, motivations, and thought process
  • Self-Management: the ability to master one's emotions and impulses while adapting to change
  • Social Awareness: the ability to sense, understand and react to other peoples' emotions
  • Relationship Management: the ability to inspire and influence others while mitigating conflict

Nurse leaders possess these qualities, which can be learned during their undergraduate and graduate studies. A BSN or MSN is generally required for nurses interested in leadership positions.

Nurse Leader Responsibilities

Nurse leaders need a certain level of expertise and acumen to be successful in a leadership role. Additional education, concentrated practice, and studies with other nurse leaders help nurses interested in moving into a leadership role gain the knowledge and experience needed to do so.

Nurse leaders also motivate groups and foster a culture of collaboration. The following are examples of some of the ways nurse leaders motivate others:

  • Self-Controlled and Group-Oriented Mindset: Nurse Leaders can define a vision and guide individuals and groups while promoting teamwork and commitment
  • Being Courageous and Motivated: Strength to promote group cohesion and focus while ensuring team members’ relationships are collaborative and productive
  • Accessible to Their Team: Leaders who make themselves available and focus on maintaining good working relationships are better able to influence and help those around them
  • Showing Appreciation: Nurse Leaders recognize that giving credit to others for their efforts motivates and inspires a goal-oriented work ethic

These qualities are exhibited in the daily activities of nurse leaders.

Nurse Leadership Career Opportunities

There are many types of positions available to nurse leaders. Given the expected increase in patient numbers, nurse leadership positions in hospitals, private practices, nursing homes and community programs will be in higher demand. Some of the positions open to nurse leaders include:

  • Case Manager
  • Patient Care Coordinator
  • Nurse Navigator
  • Nurse Manager
  • Research Nurse

Nurse leaders have different responsibilities depending on their roles, but the qualities that make them leaders are consistent. Experienced, and highly educated, nurse leaders are needed to ensure quality patient care and effective health care management.

The online RN-BSN program at the University of Saint Mary provides the opportunity for registered nurses to earn their bachelor's degrees in a flexible, mentored learning environment. USM's CCNE accredited RN-BSN program focuses on critical thinking, decision-making, leadership and communication. By earning an RN-BSN in an online format, nurses can continue working while accelerating their careers.