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How to Be a Good Nurse Leader

by Dr. Kimberly Perkins, MEd, NHA

Effective leadership is the ability to communicate your vision to others who are then willing to follow you because they, too, believe in your vision. Nurses who practice effective leadership skills produce higher staff participation, heightened organizational awareness and better quality of care. As the population segment aged 65 and older continues to rapidly increase, the need for effective nurse leaders will continue to increase as well.

Communicate regularly with your staff to keep them informed and up to date. Take the time to let them know about new expectations, department changes, changes in care and other important information. Good communication includes regularly scheduled meetings where your nurse staff is encouraged to share their ideas and express their concerns.

Listen to your staff. Make it a point to talk less and listen more. Your staff will feel engaged and appreciate that you value their opinions. Effective listening includes looking at your staff while they are talking and refraining from interrupting them.

Empathize with your staff. We are all humans and face unique situations. Expressing concern for your staff during a troubling time shows that you care. An example of empathizing with your staff includes taking the time to see how someone is doing after a difficult event, such as the death of a patient they might have grown close to.

Find ways to encourage your staff. Encouragement instills motivation and enthusiasm to do a good job. This is especially important in nursing because a nurse's attitude can have a direct impact on the health of patients. Not everyone will respond to the same type of encouragement, so you will need to find ways to provide individual as well as group support. Email thank-you notes for a job well done and publicly recognize a staff member when she exceeds expectations.

Mentor your staff. Staff members who feel they are contributing to the organization's success will be more motivated to develop their skills and apply them at work. Allowing staff to learn from you will heighten their dedication and growth at work.

Tip

  • Leadership is situational, and not all situations will yield the same results. A nurse leader should take time to analyze her leadership style and its impact on staff. Work to keep improving your leadership techniques to improve overall staff performance.

Warning

  • Nurse leaders who do not clearly communicate expectations to their staff may experience animosity or rebellion. Set clear expectations and guidelines early on to prevent problems down the road.

About the Author

Dr. Kimberly Perkins is a seasoned leader in health care administration with experience in independent, assisted, skilled nursing, critical access, rural health, and memory care services. Perkins has performed in a music video by the Assisted Living Federation of America. Having lived as an undercover nursing home resident, she understands firsthand how to provide care to those in need.

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