nurse leader, nursing leadershipA great leader is someone who can motivate others to work together for a common goal. An effective nurse leader has a unique set of personal qualities and able to handle stress. Leaders need to seize every opportunity to inspire people by recognizing their worth, services or contributions.

This article addresses effective and inspirational nursing leadership. I first want to define leadership, as there are many interpretations of the definition out there.

John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, defined leadership as: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”








An inspirational leader first identifies his/her employees’ visions for the future and then sets a plan in motion for helping him/her achieve their nursing goals. Encouragement of dreams, support in attainment of those dreams, and advice along the way are defining moments in leadership.


Also categorized under dreams is creativity. If you, by your leadership style, not only allow but also encourage your employees to use their personal creative touch and imagination to make daily tasks better and to learn more, you are an exemplary leader.







A good leader understands and embraces the fact that learning is a lifelong process. He/she not only maintains his/her updated education, but also encourages his/her employees to do the same.


An inspirational nurse leader provides ample on-the-job training and nursing education so that his/her employee can excel and provide the best patient care possible. Employees of an inspirational leader want to learn more to further themselves and their careers.






An inspirational leader leads by example. He/she is the first one in and the last one to leave. He/she “walks the talk” as the expression goes. An inspirational leader knows the tasks in his/her department backward and forward and is able to perform them with ease. The effective leader encourages his/her employees to do more through motivational techniques and leading the way! This part of leadership is often overlooked but is key in inspirational leadership.






When you are able to see the dreams of your employees come to fruition and know that you were instrumental in your employees’ achievements, you are an inspirational leader. You have assisted him/her to achieve what they dreamed they would. When that employee leaves your department for the promotion he/she has worked towards and dreamed of, you can celebrate your inspirational your leadership.




Here are some further tips on how to be an inspirational nurse leader:

  1. Having the Right Perspective.

    Know your job and know your people!  Know what the atmosphere of the area is going in.  Gain the “right perspective” day one by observing and talking to your employees individually to gain insight. Don’t make changes or judge until you are sure you have the full picture.

  2. Constructive Feedback.

    There is a right way and a wrong way her  I have had nurse managers (can’t call them leaders) who have yelled, belittled, and been the passive-aggressive type of leader. Not good. I have also been blessed to have leaders who took the right approach and provided timely and constructive feedback to me as an individual. An inspirational leader knows his/her employees as individuals and how to best approach each one.

  3. Possess the Right Spirit.

    Don’t come into work with a frown on your face every morning. Don’t talk to your employees about your personal problems or nursing management issues. Create an atmosphere of joy and happiness. I know this sound “utopist”, but it can be done!

  4. Setting Goals.

    You should set short and long-term goals for you and your team. These goals should be aimed at improving both departmental and individual achievements. Discuss these goals with your team members and create benchmarks checks along the way. Reward your team when each benchmark is attained.




    Delegation of Responsibilities.

    Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each of your employees and delegating the right task(s) to the right people is the art of leadership. You may have team members who love public speaking and can provide team training. You may have others who are shy but artistically talented and would create masterful nursing presentations.  Don’t only delegate, but tell the individuals why you picked them for this particular task.  Talk up their talents!  They will perform to the max!

  6. Creating an Enjoyable Atmosphere.

    Yes, we are all busy and have work to do. But this does not mean we have to do it in an atmosphere of distrust, intimidation, or dictatorship. Inspirational nurse leaders create an atmosphere where employees (yes, you can) actually look forward to coming to work. 


Nurses, please leave a coment below sharing your thoughts on this article!