7 Nursing Leadership Qualities

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To advance your nursing career, you can harness these nursing leadership qualities: compassion for patients, work ethic, initiative, collaboration, efficiency, visionary thinking, humility, and communication. If you focus on strengthening these qualities and setting your mind to your goals, you'll be able to advance in the nursing field.

smiling nurse looking at child patient

As a future nurse, do you aspire to rise to the top of your field? If you have your sights set on a leadership position in nursing, it’s important to know how to prepare. Which nursing leadership qualities will help you achieve your goals? The students in the Hybrid and On-Ground Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs at Felician University are taking the first steps toward a leadership role by earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Our 16-month Hybrid and 18-month On-Ground programs will provide you with many of the nursing leadership skills necessary for taking on leadership roles in the future.

Let’s discuss the seven leadership qualities in nursing that you’ll need when aiming for greater professional responsibility. We’ll also discuss how you can improve in each area and how to apply each skill.

1. Compassion for Patients

One of the key skills shared by all great nurses is compassion. You will provide better care if your heart is in the right place and you care for and value each patient. Patients appreciate it when their nurse shows compassion, and it helps them feel more supported.

When you’re working toward a lofty professional goal, such as earning a nursing management position, start by going back to the basics: embodying compassion with your patients. Remember to also have compassion for your coworkers. Having a kind heart goes a long way, and in a leadership role, you’ll need to lead and make decisions with a compassionate heart.

ABSN student in sim lab

How to Improve Compassion

  • Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and consider life from their perspective.
  • Before you respond in conversation, think through how to communicate in an empathetic way.

How to Apply Compassion

Use compassion with your patients, coworkers, friends, and family. Putting the needs of others before your own is at the heart of compassion. Showing compassion across all your interactions will benefit those around you.

2. Work Ethic

Working hard forms the basis of most successes in this world, including in nursing. If you aren’t working hard, you’re missing one of the key nursing leadership qualities. Hard work helps you achieve your goals, and working hard as a leader shows the people you manage that you’re dedicated, and their respect for you will grow.

nursing students studying with tablet

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How to Improve Your Work Ethic

  • Set short-term and long-term goals for yourself and write them down. Use these goals to motivate yourself to work harder.
  • Believe in yourself and find ways to stay motivated. You are capable of far more than you think.

How to Apply Work Ethic

Go above and beyond with your patients and do more than the minimum requirements. Let a commitment to hard work permeate your personal and professional life. This shift in mindset will benefit you throughout your life.

3. Collaboration

A great team is comprised of well-functioning members who effectively use each other’s strengths to achieve goals. A healthcare team must have accountable members who fulfill their own responsibilities and can also work together effectively.

If you wish to become a nursing leader, one of the essential nursing leadership qualities is collaboration. You’ll need to work productively with your peers, superiors, and those who report to you. Knowing how to manage a group of people effectively will serve you well as a nursing leader.

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NP with patient

How to Improve Collaboration

  • Find ways to work in groups more often. For example, form a study group in nursing school.
  • Ask for feedback from peers about how you can better benefit the team.

How to Apply Collaboration Skills

Collaboration is a skill that you’ll apply daily as a nurse. You’ll collaborate with patients and families to stay on track with care plans, you’ll work together with other nurses to care for patients on a unit, and you’ll collaborate with other healthcare providers to ensure that your patients receive comprehensive care.

4. Efficiency

Nursing is a demanding career, and efficiency is the key to staying ahead. While procrastination may have served you well in the past, having good time management skills is essential as a nurse and nurse leader. Leaders must be able to set goals and achieve them within the given timeline. They also need to be able to complete their work in a way that is both effective and timely.

How to Improve Efficiency

  • Evaluate your processes; look for ways to cut out unnecessary and refocus on what’s most important.
  • Set small, attainable process goals to gradually improve over time.

How to Apply Efficiency

Efficiency applies to all the duties you have as a nurse. By improving your efficiency with patient care techniques and procedures, you can complete tasks quicker and more effectively. Efficiency will help you stand out as an excellent nurse.

student studying in library

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5. Visionary Thinking

In the field of nursing, there is always room for growth and improvement, and it’ll be your job as a leader to help facilitate that growth. Visionary thinking is a nursing leader quality that sets apart the leaders from the followers; leaders have bold ideas about how to make the future better, and they help their teams achieve those goals.

How to Improve Visionary Thinking

  • Practice imagining the future and setting goals that are far-reaching and challenging.
  • Consider all aspects of a goal before setting it to ensure that it’s realistic, beneficial, and timely.

How to Apply Visionary Thinking

Visionary thinking involves looking at situations with a thousand-foot view; it comes into play during idea formation and goal setting. When you’re forming a plan for the future, identify the system inefficiencies and picture how to overcome them.

6. Humility

Nursing leaders need a delicate balance of confidence and humility. While they should have confidence in their abilities and plans, they also need to recognize the value that others bring to the table. Having a humble attitude will help you hear the voices of others. Humble leaders make wiser decisions and are more willing to adjust course, if needed. This is key to excelling in a nursing leadership position.

How to Improve Humility

  • Practice asking others for their advice and opinions.
  • Resist the temptation to believe that you’re the smartest person in the room.

How to Apply Humility

When you’re interacting with others in the workplace or at school, focus on listening to everyone’s thoughts before deciding on a course of action. If you’re working with patients, show humility by asking other nurses for help if you have questions. This will improve your skills and ensure that your patients receive the best care.

7. Communication Skills

Effective communication is a major aspect of good nursing leadership. You’ll need to communicate with your patients, other nurses, and healthcare providers.

ABSN student holding books by lockers

Thoughtful communication will help patients feel heard and understood, making you a better bedside nurse. Additionally, in a leadership role, being a good communicator will help you gain the support and trust of the healthcare team.

How to Improve Communication

  • Practice being an attentive listener and thinking through your responses before speaking.
  • Be curious about your patients and peers; show interest in hearing about them.
  • Practice speaking in front of groups of people. You’ll gain more confidence the more you practice.

How to Apply Communication Skills

Communication skills apply to your work with patients and families as you talk them through their health, inquire about symptoms, and explain treatment plans. Effective communication also comes into play when interacting with peers and other healthcare providers.

Start Your Journey at Felician!

Now that you know what nursing leadership qualities you’ll need as you advance your career, it’s time to take the first step toward your goal. Earning a BSN will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to achieve your goals. The accelerated nursing program at Felician will help kickstart your nursing career. Our 16-month ABSN program and 18-month On-Ground ABSN program, both in New Jersey, will prepare you to sit for the NCLEX and start your nursing career.

Want to know more about the ABSN program? Learn how the accelerated nursing program works at Felician.

nurse with manikin

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits, the accelerated program may be right for you. Reach out to our admissions counselors to learn more about Felician and to find out if the program is right for you. Fill out our online form today to get in touch.