Leadership in Nursing

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Leadership is the ability to motivate, influence and direct a group of individuals towards accomplishing a specific goal. It is important to note that one doesn’t need to supervise or manage anyone to position oneself as a leader. Even young trainee nurses can start to learn and develop strong leadership roles.

While many skills are universally useful, there are specific skills that are critical to developing a successful nursing leadership role. And developing these skills in a nursing career is important because patients need persons who can lead them away from disease to wellness. Even colleagues at the workplace need to be led in providing service and in the direction of growth and learning.

This paper takes a look at some of the characteristics of a successful nurse leader, a critical analysis of personal leadership qualities and barriers to effective leadership.

Characteristics of Ideal Nurse Leader

Credibility is, without doubt, the foundation of leadership. This is because most people are influenced by credible individuals. Some of the general characteristics of an ideal nurse leader are:

  • self-confidence
  • Courage
  • Trustworthiness
  • Good time management
  • Organizing
  • Social awareness
  • Effective communication
  • Appreciation
  • Relationship management.

Self-confidence is required to communicate ideas and influence others. Leaders use their relationship management skills to manage conflicts by utilizing the needs and desires of the team and by influencing the behaviour of others. Patrick & Sullivan (2014) shows that time management is also an important aspect of a good nurse leader. To become a leader in the nursing field means having the ability to effectively manage time. Good time management involves the ability in organizing (tidy up the work environment), plan, prioritize and schedule. Absolon & Krueger (2013) explains that as a leader one should be able to plan the day’s activities and tasks ahead of time by allocating enough time for eventual unforeseen issues.

Personal Analysis of my leadership qualities

As an aspiring nurse leader, I have learnt throughout my nursing career to develop personal credibility as the foundation of my leadership. To achieve this I have learnt to keep commitments and not to make commitments that I can’t keep. I have also learnt that credibility also means taking responsibility. As a result, I have developed a sense of responsibility for every action I take, without pointing fingers or blaming anyone.

I have also developed good social skills, generosity and empathy. I have learnt to be a good listener and I can effectively communicate my values and ideas to colleagues through words and action.

As a leader, I have also been known to express enthusiasm and optimism as a way of inspiring others. I can manage time wisely by setting priorities to avoid activities that waste time. I also recognize the importance of building a strong personal network and through this, I have expanded my general knowledge by developing strong social skills.

Barriers to Being an Effective Leader

Fairman & Joanne (2015) explains that barriers to being an effective leader can either be self-imposed or can be caused by others. However, whether these hurdles are set up by others or not is not the important thing. The most important thing for aspiring leaders should be to identify and overcome these barriers. Some of the self-imposed barriers include arrogance, untrustworthiness, disorganization, negativity and stubbornness.

Although confidence is a vital leadership quality, having a little too much of it becomes disastrous arrogance. When arrogance takes over, a leader starts to make demands and this can impact the team negatively.

Trustworthiness is another essential quality that every leader should have. Without trust, it becomes difficult to inspire the team. Dock & Lavinnia (2013) explains that mistrust of a leader can cause resistance and rebellion in a team and this will make it very difficult to move the team to achieve the goals.

A team looks upon their leader as an example of how to execute tasks. A disorganized leader who gets little done, or who can’t move an idea or intention into action can’t inspire others to success. A disorganized leader only casts doubt on the entire team and unleashes a sense of hopelessness and loss of focus.

Negativity and stubbornness are also barriers to effective leadership. A negative leader cannot motivate others and would always find it difficult to influence the team to move forward. On the other hand, being too stubborn and unwilling to listen to other people’s ideas or opinions is a weakness in leadership. Although the leader always has the final decision, being too stubborn on ideas hinders good working relations and teamwork.

A leader who is afraid of being disliked by others and therefore fails to take actions that would attract unpopular views cannot be able to plan well and lead the team to the next level of success. Kalisch & Philip (2015) explains that the inability to make any decision at all or poor decisions will not only cause anxiety and frustration but would also make the rest of the team lose confidence in the team leader.


It is important to note that all the skills required to become a successful nurse leader are learnable. For nurses who are willing to step up, all it takes is a commitment to continuously learn to grow and play to one’s strengths.

Hannah & Deena (2013) argues that not having values or not being able to stick to one’s values can only expose a leader and make him/her susceptible to inconsistencies. And this will ultimately result in loss of faith from the rest of the team.


Absolon, P., & Krueger, C. (2013). Role of Hospital Nursing in Promoting Patient Recovery. Journal of Clinical HealthCare, 95 (2), 127.

Dock, H., & Lavinnia, R. (2013). The Ultimate Skills Required in Nursing Profession. Canada Medical Association Journal, 34(1), 103.

Fairman, J., & Joanne, E. (2015).The Emergence of Modern Critical of Nursing. Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 66(2), 131.

Hannah, B., & Deena, K. (2013). The Global Nursing Faculty Leadership Shortage. The Journal of Nursing Education, 78(1), 112.

Kalisch, B., & Philip, M. (2015). The advance of Healthcare Professionals. North-America Medical Journal, 64(1), 105.

Patrick, J., & Sullivan, S. (2014). The Organizational Skills in Healthcare. The American America Journal of HealthCare, 36 (3), 117.

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"Leadership in Nursing." NursingBird, 4 Apr. 2022, nursingbird.com/leadership-in-nursing/.


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NursingBird. 2022. "Leadership in Nursing." April 4, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/leadership-in-nursing/.

1. NursingBird. "Leadership in Nursing." April 4, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/leadership-in-nursing/.


NursingBird. "Leadership in Nursing." April 4, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/leadership-in-nursing/.