Seven Skills That Make a Good Nursing Leader

By Charlotte Miller

Quality leadership is the cornerstone of any healthy working environment. In any workplace, the lack of effective leadership can lead to toxic workplace culture, low employee productivity, and create a cycle of poor performance. 

However, in a health care setting, the impact of ineffective leadership is amplified several times over as it can adversely affect patient mortality and quality of care and experience. 

Effective leadership in healthcare

The infrastructure of any healthcare institution relies heavily on nurses. However, delivering high-quality care to patients is impossible without competent nursing leadership. After all, a positive work environment and healthy workplace culture can benefit employees and patients, which is only possible with effective nursing leadership.

Nursing leaders can help inspire and motivate employees to work effectively towards achieving their personal and professional goals. Your role as a nursing leader is more than just coordinating and managing all aspects of patient care. 

You are responsible for mentoring trainees, introducing the latest research and emerging trends into best practices, and nurturing a positive environment for your employees and patients.

Seven skills that every nursing leader must possess

No matter where you work, be it at a large hospital or a nursing home, effective leadership can help inspire and motivate nurses to work towards achieving better patient care outcomes. Today we will share seven essential skills you must possess to direct better patient care initiatives effectively. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

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  1. High EQ

Nursing leaders with high emotional intelligence demonstrate superior interpersonal skills and sensitivity to their subordinates’ well-being and needs, enabling them to lead with empathy. Furthermore, a key responsibility of nursing leaders is to mentor trainees and help them develop emotional intelligence, which is essential for coping with stressful situations and burnout. 

Nurse leaders provide support to trainees that help them effectively deal with difficulties that can lead to emotional weariness and poor performance. For trainees, this support from a nursing leader can make it easier for them to deal with stress, build better rapport with patients, and achieve positive patient outcomes.

  1. Excellent communication skills

Nursing leaders must have excellent communication skills to achieve the highest possible success in all aspects of their work. After all, a nurse leader must communicate effectively with various healthcare providers, including support personnel, primary and critical care providers, physicians, nursing trainees, patients, and their loved ones.

Clear communication in the health care industry can help foster a culture of cooperation among workers at all levels. 

Communicating clearly and precisely while listening attentively and providing constructive criticism is essential when working with nurses still in training. Effective interpersonal skills can help you better educate other nurses and students about the best practices in patient care.  

  1. Decision making

A more streamlined and purposeful healthcare system is possible with the help of people who can make clear, concise, and decisive decisions. Nurse leaders confront a never-ending stream of decisions on various issues, from establishing procedures for their teams to keeping records. Junior nurses, like residents, turn to nurse leaders for guidance and input on day-to-day operations.

Critical thinking is becoming an increasingly helpful (professional) ability for practitioners due to the rising tendency toward autonomy in nursing. They help less-experienced nursing practitioners hone their decision-making skills by teaching them to apply critical thinking to various variables. 

This competency is necessary for the modern health care setting, which features an increasing number of instances of interdisciplinary teamwork.

  1. Digital Literacy

In recent years, technology has become an essential part of the health care industry as it has effectively transformed the industry for the better. Tech in healthcare aims to increase the efficiency of hospitals and administrative departments, provide fresh insights into existing drugs and treatments, or improve the standard of care delivered to patients.

As a result of the growing reliance of modern medical facilities on electronic health records and cutting-edge digital technology, medical center administrators are required to maintain current and up-to-date knowledge of these developments and educate newly hired staff members about their use.


  1. High professional ethics

The nursing profession is fast-paced and demanding, calling for competent leadership adaptable to change. Nursing leaders represent the collective stance of nurses in almost every interaction with other medical professionals. This relevance will grow as nurse leaders increasingly assume board-level roles as representatives of their respective fields.

Furthermore, in the rapidly changing healthcare system, nursing leaders play a crucial role as intermediaries between nurses and top executives. Hence, it’s paramount for nursing leaders to cultivate their trainees as future leaders and ensure they seek out advanced learning opportunities to provide optimal care and realize their full professional potential.

  1. Dedication to lifelong learning

Lifelong learning should be a priority for nursing leaders looking to maintain a high level of competency throughout their professional lives. Pursuing advanced training and certifications can enable you to keep up with the changing healthcare landscape and update your current skill set, which prepares you to face any challenges that may lie ahead. 

Continuing education opportunities for registered nurses might include earning a post-graduate degree focusing on leadership. Certifications and other forms of credentialing are examples of advanced education that you can pursue to improve your abilities and general practice.

  1. Passion for creativity and innovation

Nursing leaders must be collaborative and receptive to new ideas while taking criticism in stride and using it to improve care for patients, nurse trainees, and coworkers. Adapting one’s approach to a given patient care area is essential for medical professionals in these roles.

In addition, the capacity to grow and develop along with the healthcare sector is essential for nursing leadership. Leaders in the nursing field must deal with the unpredictability of their daily work and the ever-shifting medical environment. 

Moreover, leaders have the responsibility of relaying these updates to their teams. Exercising reflective thought and welcoming new information and best practices can enhance your organization’s current state of affairs.


As a profession, nursing recognizes the critical role that strong leadership plays. Nurse leaders have a pivotal role in shaping the future of health care and need the skillsets to make essential choices and implement change. 

Constant self-reflection and identifying areas for professional development are essential for nursing leaders as it helps them be catalysts for good change in the industry. If you aspire to bring about positive change within the industry, working on the above-discussed qualities will surely help you grow as a professional.

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