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The Importance of Nursing Leadership

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December 15, 2021

Adequate nurse leadership is significant in all healthcare facilities because it influences nurse retention and overall patient care. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), a nurse leader is a health care professional who has a passion for excelling in the health care sector through applying nursing leadership skills and principles. Nurse leaders' management and leadership skills are needed as they shape the culture of their facilities. The effectiveness of a nurse leader's leadership skills will directly impact how their nurses take care of their patients. If they have open communication and respect among their staff, they will have a solid foundation with their nurses. If they lead and direct their team correctly, then, in turn, their staff will be better prepared to put patient safety and care at the forefront.

What is Leadership in Nursing?

Nurse leaders make up a majority of the healthcare workforce today. Exceptional nurse leaders motivate and inspire their current workforce every day and encourage them on their career paths. They are usually seasoned nurses or administrators who have refined their skills to advance them to the next leadership level.

Experienced nurse leaders are essential as their team is only as successful as they prepare them to be. Many describe proper nurse leaders as encouraging, inspiring, and supportive, but adaptability is key to being an exceptional nurse leader. They must adapt to the ever-changing nursing industry and all the issues that affect it. Changes such as the nursing shortage continue to affect hospitals across the country. Having good nurse leaders will establish a more cohesive staff, which will improve the overall patient experience and benefit the workforce altogether.

What are the 5 Leadership Styles in Nursing?

Having practical leadership skills is essential in the nursing profession, and it requires special training, skills, and characteristics. Certain leadership styles are needed when working as a nurse leader as they need to motivate and ensure their employees are satisfied with their jobs. Effective nurse management is essential to any well-working hospital. Multiple leadership styles may work for your facility; the main five are:

Transformational Nursing Leadership

In transformational leadership, leaders will motivate their employees and encourage innovation among their entire staff. They have a shared vision among their team that they use to facilitate change. They encourage their employees to take ownership of their roles and perform beyond their expectations. They tend to lead by example.

Democratic Nursing Leadership

With democratic leadership, nurse leaders welcome communication from their team, especially in times of decision making. They encourage input and value their relationships with their staff. They make sure their team feels comfortable to voice their concerns, opinions, and ideas. They provide feedback and encourage open communication.

Laissez-Faire Nursing Leadership

A laissez-faire leadership style is where a nurse leader offers a "hands-off" approach. They tend to make fewer decisions and work to facilitate their team to make decisions for themselves. They trust their team but are critical when needed. They only step in and take over when they feel they must but are more tolerable of errors.

Autocratic Nursing Leadership

The opposite of laissez-faire leadership, autocratic leadership, is regarded as extremely "hands-on" and is in complete control of decision making. Autocratic nurse leaders make decisions without input from their team and may also withhold information from their team. They have little patience for mistakes and effectively make quick-thinking decisions when needed.

Servant Nursing Leadership

Servant leadership is known as a supportive leadership style. They provide their team members with the tools, skills, and advice they need to complete their tasks to the best of their ability. They share power among their staff and are great listeners. They prioritize their team and support their employees by evaluating the needs of their team and empathizing with their team. These leaders are best for those nurses who need frequent support to create an effective care unit.   

Why is Leadership Important in Nursing?

Leadership in nursing is essential, especially during COVID-19, as the healthcare system has faced many challenges in the last year. These challenges include the aging population, hospitals at maximum compacity, and high nurse turnover. The pandemic has placed tremendous demands on healthcare leaders, with many nurses needing to act fast and assist their staff. The overwhelming response of patients due to the pandemic has placed extraneous demands on healthcare providers, requiring them to make fast-paced decisions and make sure all healthcare professionals feel secure in their positions.

Leadership in nursing is so important as it directly impacts the flow and progression of healthcare units. It affects an organization's performance and the quality of care they provide to their patients. A patient needs to feel as though they can rely on their healthcare workers, and that stems from having proper nurse leaders in place. Leadership sets the tone, especially in times of uncertainty during COVID-19. Excellent nurse leaders must inspire and guide both present and tenured nurses. In a reliable organization, leadership skills are needed through all administrative levels. Nurse leaders play a huge role in directly communicating and impacting front-line caregivers and healthcare professionals.

What are the Qualities of a Good Nurse Leader?

There are many qualities necessary to be an effective leader in the nursing profession, and they are the foundation of any successful leader. More than ever, there is a need to provide quality healthcare to patients, and why certain qualities are increasingly important in the nursing profession. Nurse leaders must be not only medically intelligent but also emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence includes having hard and soft skills. Hard skills include clinical and technical skills, and soft skills include social skills that will help them communicate with their staff. Proper nurse leaders know how to lead, follow, and delegate. Essential qualities of a practical nurse leader include:

  • Effective Interpersonal Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Adaptability
  • Professionalism
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Sense of Teamwork and Collaboration

Bottom Line

Nurse leadership sets a precedent for future patient care across the country. Nurse leaders should have open conversations with their staff to address their leadership styles and learn how to better care for their nurses.  Practicing different leadership styles are essential to care for your staff correctly, and this is how you determine the best ways to support them.

Having nurse leaders with practical and open leadership styles will allow them to work with nurses from different backgrounds. Nurse leaders well equipped with leadership skills can significantly help them when working with international nurses such as those from Avant Healthcare Professionals. As the healthcare industry adapts and changes, so do healthcare professionals. Many will grow in their profession and have multiple ups and downs, but they will succeed if a good leader cares for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of a nurse leader?

A nurse leader is often a nurse who has some clinical specialty. They are leaders that typically oversee nurse managers and RNs. They lead clinical teams and are advocates for their healthcare professionals.  They head leads for patient care initiatives and implement best practices for their team to provide top patient care.

How does one become a nurse leader?

Leadership in nursing can be accomplished through experience, certifications, and receiving an advanced degree. Most nurses can enroll in an MSN Nurse Leadership Program where they receive a certificate and an advanced degree to move them to that next level at their facility. You must work well in fast-paced environments and be able to adapt to the ever-changing healthcare industry.

About Avant Healthcare Professionals

Need nurses? Avant Healthcare Professionals is the premier staffing specialist for internationally educated registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. Avant has placed thousands of international healthcare professionals across U.S. facilities to help improve the continuity of their care, fill hard-to-find specialties, and increase patient satisfaction, revenue and HCAHPS scores. Avant is a Joint Commission accredited staffing agency and founding member of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment (AAIHR). Avant Healthcare Professionals is a member of the Jackson Healthcare® family of companies.


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