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How to Be An Effective Nurse Leader

How to be an Effective Nurse Leader

Regardless of the type of nurse you aspire to be, there are several leadership traits you can cultivate to help you grow into an effective leader. Listed below are 4 main leadership styles – each with key attributes and additional skills. Master these and you can succeed as a nurse leader.


Engages others in decision-making, solicits suggestions, feedback, and evaluates all information when formulating a final decision. Promotes and encourages personal and professional development.

Key Trait: Peer Engagement

In a study of 22,719 leaders – where subordinates were asked if they felt they were given ‘honest feedback’ – the following was found:

2,272 nurses surveyed said only 25 percent of the feedback they received was honest.

5,680 nurses surveyed said about 38 percent of the feedback they received was honest.

6,816 nurses surveyed said 50 percent of the feedback they received was honest.

5,680 nurses surveyed said about 63 percent of the feedback they received was honest.

2,271 nurses surveyed said about 80 percent of the feedback they received was honest.


Puts team members’ well-being and job satisfaction first, but be aware that offering passive feedback can be seen as weak, hesitant or indecisive.

Key Trait: Promotes Morale

75 percent of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important.”


Uses a positive, charismatic approach in managing others, encourages personal and professional development, promotes teamwork, builds self-esteem. This nurse often has strong communication skills and displays empathy, confidence, and integrity.

Key Trait: Strong Communicator

Communication matters. Employees who feel they are being listened to by their managers are:

5 times more likely to be enthusiastic about work and 21 times more likely to be committed to their job.


A stricter approach to leadership through solo decision-making, attributed to strong willpower. He or she has expectations that tasks will be completed promptly and without question, but this may reduce the sense of individual autonomy by closely supervising staff.

Key Trait: Willpower

When asked to identify their own character strengths, more than 1 million people responded by ranking their own perceived strengths. “Self-control” ranked the lowest among all respondents. But self-control can be developed through these types of practices:

Eating and sleeping properly; Meditating; Managing Stress; Exercise.

By adopting and nurturing each of these key traits, it can enhance your leadership abilities:

Accepts change, Peer engagement, Time management, Promotes Morale, Empathetic, Strong communicator, Organized, Willpower, Humility, and Positive.

84 percent of 1,600 nurses surveyed said they were dissatisfied with their current manager. By adopting the traits above, it can help win over that 84 percent that are dissatisfied.

All nurses want to report to honest and effective leaders that communicate effectively and promote inclusiveness. In order to be that type of manager or supervisor, study and adopt the leadership traits identified in this graphic and evolve into the most effective nurse leader you can be.

Sacred Heart University