What to Expect When You Work as a Nurse Leader

Nurses with management and leadership skills are needed in every part of the world to deliver quality healthcare services. Nurse leaders are highly skilled professionals who influence healthcare organizations. There are several essential characteristics and qualities that nurses will need in leadership roles. These advanced nursing professionals can work in every discipline and setting in the healthcare industry. Nurses may have different leadership styles, but they have a wide range of responsibilities to make a real difference in the healthcare industry.

What are nurse leaders, and why are they important?

The profession of nursing is quite diverse and includes a number of specializations and roles. Nurse leaders are professionals with advanced leadership skills. They motivate, influence and inspire healthcare and nursing staff. They motivate their team to work together so that they can work toward the common goal of delivering excellent healthcare services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was easy to see why strong leadership is needed in the healthcare industry and in nursing. Nurses had to quickly respond to a complex and rapidly changing healthcare environment. The pandemic showed why it was important for nurse leaders to be ready for innovation and change as they respond to everyday challenges. During the pandemic, there was an increase in patient inflow. Nurse leaders had to create new ways to accommodate these increasing demands while managing new ways to work with telemedicine and videoconferences. They also had to find new ways to stretch scarce resources and prevent shortages.

The skills and abilities of nurse leaders will continue to be important even after the end of the pandemic. Their innovations, adaptability and leadership qualities will endure and help us to navigate the uncertain future.

Roles and responsibilities of nurse leaders

Nurse leaders are role models to their team members. They need to be able to communicate effectively so that team members know their roles, expectations and goals. They need to inspire everyone on the team to work collaboratively to achieve common goals. Nursing leaders also need to have strong clinical skills so that they can make a positive difference in patient outcomes. They can use their skills to support and direct patient care. They are an advocate for patients and can make a real difference in the lives of the people they care for.

Important skills for nursing leaders 

If you are interested in advancing your career and pursuing leadership roles in nursing, it is essential to develop leadership skills. Nurse leaders need to hone important skills that form the foundation for success in this profession. Good leaders can effectively manage organizations and teams. They use qualities such as direction, insight and communication to improve patient care quality. To succeed as a nurse leader in healthcare, it is important to have a few key skills, as discussed below.


Nurses in leadership positions have to make important decisions daily. They have to oversee the maintenance of records and set policies for their teams. Team members such as resident nurses approach nurse leaders for advice and decision-making on a day-to-day basis. They need to be efficient, effective and clear in all the decisions they make. They also need to be able to think quickly and take responsibility for the outcome of the decisions they make.  


Nurse leaders are role models for nurses in their teams. They must use motivation, communication and interpersonal skills to train and guide other nurses. As a mentor, nurse leaders have to create a supportive environment where team members feel safe. They have to encourage continuing education and development within their organization. Nurse leaders need to set a high standard for other nurses so that they can learn from their abilities and grow to become skilled professionals.

Conflict resolution 

One of the biggest responsibilities of leaders in any industry is conflict resolution. Like any other sector, conflicts are unavoidable in the healthcare industry. A critical skill that all nurse leaders must develop is conflict resolution. They need to be able to create an environment that encourages patient satisfaction, productivity and teamwork by resolving issues promptly as they arise. In healthcare organizations, different care providers may have different opinions when it comes to diagnosing patients and creating care plans for them. Conflict resolution will be needed in such situations for better patient outcomes.

Communication skills 

An important skill for any nurse in a leadership or management position is communication. Nurse leaders must develop strong communication skills so that they can excel in all their responsibilities. The right communication strategy can encourage team members to collaborate with each other to support organizational goals. Good communication involves not just precise, clear and effective communication, but also active listening. Nurse leaders must also encourage team members to provide feedback so that they can continue to improve.


Good leaders are adaptable so that they can keep up with the constant changes. Healthcare professionals have to deal with uncertainty on a daily basis because of the nature of the industry. They need to be adaptable and take action quickly to evolve as needed. Nurse leaders also need to be able to communicate changes to their team members effectively and ensure that they adapt to these changes.

Continuous development

Nurse leaders need to be committed to developing their skills through training and education throughout their careers. Upgrading skills will ensure that they can face any challenges ahead, anticipate changes, and learn about cutting-edge developments in the industry. They can do this by pursuing advanced degrees. Remote programs allow nurse leaders to keep their credentials and certifications updated.

How to become a nurse leader

Nursing is a challenging profession, and most nurses learn leadership skills while performing their job. Nurses can display leadership traits at any level because they need to take the initiative and make decisions quickly on the job. If you are interested in pursuing a leadership role in nursing, you can also pursue an advanced degree. Institutions such as Walsh University offer programs such as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) that will provide you with the credentials and knowledge you need to advance your career. Through an advanced DNP program, you will gain the highest nursing competency so that you can develop advocacy and leadership skills, critical thinking skills, and expertise in health systems. 

Nurse leaders need to be flexible and adaptable, and must always be prepared to respond quickly to challenges. The healthcare industry is constantly faced with legislative and regulatory changes. They have to keep up with new treatments and technologies such as electronic patient records, telemedicine and artificial intelligence. Nurses also have to keep up with evidence-based practices and current research findings. An advanced degree will equip them with the skills they need to be able to perform all these duties. The skills required to be a successful nurse leader continue to change as the landscape of healthcare changes. To keep up with these changes, the healthcare industry needs skilled nurse leaders. The best way to take advantage of this opportunity is through a program that trains you specifically for this role.

The importance of nurse leaders 

Nurses are a crucial part of the healthcare industry. Effective leaders in nursing are equally important, if not more, to strengthen the quality and effectiveness of patient care. Good leaders create positive work environments so that patients can experience positive outcomes and staff will be motivated to work toward the goal of the facility. Nurse leaders are in a position to transform patient care as well as the business practices of healthcare organizations. They are confident and can manage staff effectively. When staff members trust their leaders, it increases their job satisfaction, morale and productivity. An effective nurse leader will have a profound impact on every area of the healthcare organization.

Nursing can be very challenging because of long shifts, managing patient demands and competing needs. Nurses have to work tirelessly at night, on holidays and on weekends. They must be able to stay focused, be empathetic and compassionate, and have attention to detail to be able to do their job well. Nurse leaders understand the challenges faced by other nurses and are in a position to provide them with the support and guidance they need. Nurse leaders also have to be aware of their own needs. They have to develop their own skills and knowledge to advance their own careers. Nurse leaders must identify opportunities for professional growth and show leadership qualities by encouraging team members to pursue continuous education opportunities. Nurse leaders are important because they drive change in the healthcare industry.

The future of healthcare is constantly evolving. There are new technological advances every day and treatment regimens are changing rapidly. This creates a further need for nurses in leadership roles. Healthcare workers look up to nurse leaders for guidance and mentorship. For nurses at every level, it is more important than ever before to learn leadership skills. This will allow them to adapt to new challenges, respond quickly to changing healthcare trends, and continue to deliver excellent care to patients, while ensuring that the overall goals of the healthcare facility are met.