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Importance of Strong Nursing Leadership

by Ellie Williams, studioD

Nurse leaders influence how their employees relate to patients and to each other, and how strongly they commit themselves to their roles as caregivers. Whether in a middle management role such as charge nurse or nurse manager, or in an executive role such as director of nursing, they must lead with a firm but compassionate hand, making it clear exactly what they expect from the team.

Creating a Healthy Workplace Atmosphere

A nurse leader sets the tone for her department, acting as either a positive or negative role model for her staff. If she makes each employee feel included and encourages teamwork, she can inspire nurses to collaborate instead of competing. By communicating regularly with her nurses, she can ensure they’ll come to her if they have questions or concerns or need mentoring. An effective nurse manager leads by example, treating employees with respect and expecting the same in return. She also holds them accountable and sets the same standards for herself as she does for her team.

Supporting Employee Development

Nurses must continually refine their skills and learn new ones to keep up with changes in medicine and to better meet their patients’ needs. Effective nurse leaders create an environment that supports this growth and gives nurses the time and resources they need to strengthen their competency. They also act as mentors, guiding new nurses as they adjust to the demands of a full-time role and offering continued support to veteran employees. If nurses know their manager encourages and values their professional development, they’re more likely to try new things and push themselves to learn more.

Setting Goals for the Department

A nursing staff looks to its leader for direction, trusting her to help them understand their role in the organization. A nurse leader often interprets goals set by hospital management, translating them into specific steps nurses can take to improve patient care, address the needs of family members and move the facility forward. She must establish clear goals for the team, communicating them in a way that her nurses understand the significance. She typically oversees everything from departmental budgets to standards of care, and must consider every aspect of the department’s operations when giving her team instructions.

Recognizing and Solving Problems

Nurse leaders must address any conflict or dilemma that arises, taking responsibility for it and finding a solution. This could include everything from a dispute between employees to a disgruntled patient or family member. A strong nurse leader shows that she cares about others’ concerns and is determined to resolve the problem. This puts both her staff and patients at ease, in addition to demonstrating that she will not allow obstacles to interfere with the day-to-day running of the unit or the quality of patient care.

About the Author

Ellie Williams has been a journalist since 2001. Her work has been recognized by her state's press association and by her local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Williams graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and humanities, with minors in French and theater.

Photo Credits

  • Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images