The key to any organization’s success is strong leadership; this is especially true for nursing, whose leaders set the tone for how staff approach their work. Leaders can easily inspire others to strive for the best; however, they can also discourage and negatively affect morale.
In my nursing career, I have encountered many leaders with varying characteristics. I have worked with leaders who seemed to have a positive effect wherever they went, inspiring and encouraging others to work their hardest and do their best. Unfortunately, I have also worked with those in leadership positions who did not possess the characteristics that make a good leader.
Leadership is a Matter of Skill and Character
Good leaders in any profession require certain skills and characteristics. Strong communication, critical thinking, and organizational skills are common characteristics expected of any leader. In addition, a positive attitude, honesty, loyalty, and passion for their work all defines a good leader. Good nurse leaders must possess all the qualities that make a leader, but it is their ability to demonstrate these characteristics that define them as exemplary leaders.
Good Nursing Leaders Influence and Inspire Others
A good nursing leader has the ability to positively influence others because they lead by example. The standards and expectations set for their staff are the same they have set for themselves. There is an ongoing commitment to and passion for excellence. Good nursing leaders take initiative. In any field we are asked to do more with less, nurse leaders think outside the box to ensure that nursing staff have the tools needed to safely and effectively care for their patients.
Stepping in to Fill the Gap
Stepping in and being able to perform the job expected of staff is another skill that effective leaders demonstrate. Situations occur where a staff member has called in sick and a replacement cannot be found, or more patients arrive to the unit that was expected. In these challenging situations, good nurse leaders step in and actively assist in any way possible.
I have worked with nurse leaders who do something as simple as pass out patient meal trays. I have also worked with leaders who came in during a night shift to serve as the code responder when staffing is a challenge. Simple actions like these are what prove to staff that their leader is there for them and is willing to do anything necessary for their staff.
Download HealthStream’s eBook about Nursing Leadership Development: Fast Track to Employee Improvement: Development Through Learning.
About the Author
Nicole Kraut is a nurse working in Chicago, Illinois, who writes for us regularly about her experiences as an early-to-mid career nurse. She has been a RN for over five years.
Nicole graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Loyola University Chicago and recently obtained a Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Nursing Education from Grand Canyon University. She “was inspired to become a nurse because I wanted to work in a career field in which I could make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. I feel nursing is my vocation and am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience in order to positively influence others.”
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