5 Leadership Qualities Every Nurse Should Have

In nursing school, leadership and management topics are briefly touched on but generally not taught in-depth. As a nurse you will be expected to show leadership as you work with a team of health care providers collaborating for patient care. For some, leadership skills come naturally, and for others, they are harder sought. Regardless, everyone’s leadership skills need to be continuously developed in order to be a good team player.


It can be difficult to properly develop leadership skills without the foundational knowledge associated with the career and specialty area. Otherwise, even if you possess other qualities of a great leader, you might be leading people astray due to lack of knowledge. This can hurt you and the patient in the long run, because if you are in a position of authority or trust without the knowledge to back it up, your team will quickly lose faith in you and your abilities. Continue to stay up-to-date in your specialty field and never stop being a student.


Unfortunately, self-confidence can be a difficult thing to come by, especially for new nurses. However, this is something that can be worked on and improved. One of the first steps to having more confidence is what was mentioned previously – knowledge. By having a strong nursing knowledge base, you will automatically improve your own confidence in yourself. Additionally, practicing daily affirmations is an easy way to increase one’s self-confidence. As your self-confidence grows, you may see that people are naturally gravitate towards you as a leader.

Willingness to Grow

A good leader is one who is never satisfied with the status quo or “good enough”, either for themselves, their team, or organization. Instead, a leader shows others the importance of personal and professional development. They never stop pushing themselves to learn more and be better. The goal is not to move forward and leave the team behind while the leader gains all the glory or attention; a good leader will pave the way for teammates and coworkers, pushing everyone to strive higher while providing encourage and knowledge of they have learned along the way.

Communication Skills

Effective communication can be a difficult skill to master, but it is vital to being a great leader. It can be difficult for leaders to delegate tasks, make assignments, or otherwise instruct the team without coming off as pushy, bullying, or demanding. A good nurse leader understands that how a message is relayed is often more important than the message itself, and will pay attention to how others are receiving the message. An effective leader addresses concerns or misunderstandings immediately and exhibits tact and kindness in all of their conversations.


Nurses are often chosen to be leaders because they have many of the above leadership qualities, and probably many more that are not on this list. If you are in a leadership position of any capacity, remember that you were selected among many for that role and that someone thought you would do well. As a nurse leader, do not forget to show gratitude for others, particularly those whom you are leading. You can show gratitude verbally, such as saying “Thanks for being a great team – I am appreciative of all your hard work!” You can also send kind notes or find creative ways to show gratitude.

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Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads is a registered nurse and a nurse educator. She earned a BSN from Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing and an MS in nursing education from Northern Illinois University. Jenna earned a PhD in education with a concentration in nursing education from Capella University where she researched the moderation effects of emotional intelligence on the relationship of stress and GPA in military veteran nursing students.