What Makes a Good Nurse Manager?

By Shantelle Coe on Thu, Oct 31, 2013

good nurse managerHaving a career in nursing is extremely rewarding but not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is deciding which path to take in the ever-expanding role of nursing. Some nurses are fortunate to find their niche right away but for others, it takes a while to find the position that best suits them. Becoming a nurse manager is a goal many nurses include as part of their career development process.

Transitioning from clinician to nurse manager, into a role where we are contributing through others instead of independently, can be quite daunting.

Today’s nurse manager has one of the most difficult jobs in health care, and it’s imperative to have access to all of the tools required to become successful. Managers need to know how to manage budgets, deliver presentations, and should have sharp communication coupled with negotiating skills.

The days of the starched, polished whites, opaque stockings and stiff hats are long gone from the nurse leader figure. Business suits, advanced degrees, laptops and spreadsheets are the stuff modern nurse managers are made of.

Turning to my own team, I asked what they valued the most in nursing leadership.

Cathie, RN, expressed nurse managers are made from something even more palatable:

“The characteristics of an exceptional manager resemble that of mayonnaise in a tuna, chicken or egg salad sandwich. Too little mayonnaise leaves the substance unable to hold together. Just the right amount of mayonnaise gets little overall recognition, applause or notice; the focus is on the overall product or outcome. Good, clear and frequent communication, creation of a supportive environment for team growth and accessibility are often statements made about clear strong management. The exceptional manager knows well their own strengths, skills and short-comings, and knows the talents, skills and background of their staff."

I would have to agree with Cathie. An exceptional manager is seasoned with just the right amounts of strength, determination, flexibility and managerial courage. These characteristics combined are the key ingredients of great leadership.

What do you feel makes a good nurse manager? Are you interested in becoming one? Leave a comment below!

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