5 Leadership Qualities Every Nurse Should Have

When you go through nursing school, you get all the classes you know you’ll need in your future career as a nurse, right? Well, not exactly. When you become a nurse you will soon be expected to show leadership as you work with a team of other nurses and physicians. So where was this class in school? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get to take a class that would teach me how to be a good nurse leader. Throughout the years, I’ve had to learn for myself what it means to be a leader. With my experience, I’ve discovered that every great nurse, whether they are in a leadership position or not, needs to embody a few qualities to be a great leader.

1. Knowledge

It’s very difficult to show leadership skills if you don’t have the foundational knowledge to back you up. So while knowledge isn’t really a personal trait, you still need to have a good understanding of the medical field, the human body, and plenty of other things if you want to be a good leader. Otherwise, even if you possess all of the following qualities, you might be leading people astray if you don’t know what you’re talking about. This will hurt you 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. So, first things first: keep studying, keep learning, and never stop expanding your knowledge!

2. Self-Confidence

From a young age, we are often taught that we can do anything. But did you really believe it? If you did and acted on your dreams, you probably have pretty good self-confidence. Believing in yourself is an ability that a lot of people lack, unfortunately. The good news is that it is something that can be practiced and improved. One of the first steps to having better confidence is what we just talked about – knowledge. If you have a strong understanding of the information and concepts in nursing, recognize it! It’s ok to know that you are good at something or know that you have a good grasp on what needs to be done.

As your self-confidence grows, you will see that people are going to be more naturally attracted to you. If people gravitate towards you in this way, simply because of the confidence you exude, you already have half the battle won when it comes to leadership.

3. Willingness to Grow

A good leader is one who is never satisfied with the status quo, either for themselves or their team or organization. Instead, a leader shows others the importance of personal and professional growth. They never stop pushing themselves to learn more and be better. Their goal is not to move forward and leave their team behind while they gain all the glory or attention; a good leader will pave the way for teammates and coworkers, pushing themselves forward through the unknown and sharing everything that they have learned along the way. When a leader pushes themselves to be better, they are letting their team know that they are aware they aren’t perfect, and even they have room to improve. This helps others see there is no shame in recognizing that you don’t know it all already and that it’s perfectly fine – and desirable – to grow and change.

4. Communication Skills

Communication is one of the trickiest skills to master, especially as a leader in any capacity. It can be difficult to designate work, make assignments, or otherwise instruct the team without coming off as pushy, bullying, or demanding. A good leader nurse 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. A good leader addresses concerns or misunderstandings immediately and exhibits tact and kindness in all of their conversations.

5. Gratitude

A nurse is often chosen to be a leader because they have exhibited many of the above traits, and probably many more that aren’t on this list. If you are a leader, remember that you were selected among many for that role and that someone thought you deserve it. As you go about your day as a nurse leader, don’t forget to show gratitude for others. You can do this by saying it verbally, such as “Thanks for being a great team – I am appreciative of all your hard work!” You can send kind notes as well. Each day a good leader will show gratitude for their team and themselves for the hard work that is put into a well-running organization.

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