Important Qualities & Characteristics As a Leader in Nursing


While some nurses are simply content to do their jobs and follow orders, others seek a more powerful leadership role. Those working as leaders within the field are often called on to organize educational experiences for fellow nurses, unite nurses in working toward a common goal or serve as a mentor to those new to the profession. To be an effective nursing leader, it's necessary to possess more than just knowledge of the principles of nursing, but also some basic leadership qualities.


  • Reliability is an important trait for all nurses to possess, as they potentially hold patients' lives in their hands, but it's even more important for nursing leaders. In addition to patients, other nurses, depend on these leaders, so they must be trustworthy and always available to help. If nursing leaders are constantly making and breaking promises, they're likely to lose the trust of those under them, hurting their ability to effectively lead.

Communication Skills

  • Nursing leaders are often called on to unite nurses or share information. To ensure they can effectively do that, they must possess highly refined communication skills, including the ability to speak in public. Because they may be asked to communicate in a variety of ways, they should possess the power to communicate well both orally and in writing.


  • To effectively serve in a nursing leadership role, individuals must be dedicated not just to enhancing the day-to-day lives of their fellow nurses, but also to the field of nursing. Because nursing leaders are sometimes faced with conflict or aren't fully appreciated by those below them, dedication to the profession is a must as it allows them to overcome challenges and look past discouraging events.


  • Nursing leaders must be fair and objective. They must not play favorites and must treat all nurses below them equally, regardless of their personal feelings toward them. If nursing leaders cannot remain objective, those under them will likely notice their lack of objectivity and may rebel against their leadership.


  • Nursing isn't a 9-to-5 job, and neither is serving as a leader within the nursing profession. Nursing leaders are often called on to work long hours. Stamina is a desirable trait in nursing leaders, to ensure they're capable of standing up to the physical and mental challenges associated with this type of work.

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