How Do You Improve Leadership Skills in Nursing? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

How do nurses working at entry level earn promotions? You might feel it’s unlikely to find a way to stand out among the crowd, shining with a special competence that makes you deserve to be  trusted with greater responsibilities in the medical setting.

Developing leadership skills is an excellent way — indeed, a prerequisite — to advance in your nursing career. The good news is that you can begin this process at any time. 

Learn here how you can work toward becoming a more competent leader and how nurses with different leadership styles contribute uniquely to their workplace.


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Why Is It Important To Improve Nursing Leadership Skills?

Nurses are influential players in the future of healthcare. Their collaboration with other healthcare professionals and patient interactions make them a powerful force for positive change.

Good nurse leaders inspire and empower their patients, colleagues, and organizations to achieve their goals. They do this by:

  • Encouraging and informing patients so they can begin to work toward regaining health
  • Guiding less-experienced coworkers
  • Having a broader vision that allows them to plan strategically, solve problems, and coordinate care effectively

Competent nurse leadership makes for a more positive work environment and paves the way for continually improving the quality of care.

Use Trusted Nurse Staffing’s travel nurse job search tool, Pronto, to locate specific settings for improving your nurse leadership skills.


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How Do You Develop Leadership Skills in Nursing?

While earning advanced degrees and certifications is an important element, by itself it does not make a nurse leader. To become a leader, you must develop certain personal qualities that do not necessarily accompany the acquisition of knowledge and expertise. 

These qualities include:

  • Effective communication
  • Analytical thinking 
  • Confidence, emotional intelligence, and trustworthiness
  • Ethical decision-making and practice
  • Adherence to evidence-based practice


improving leadership skills in nursing


10 Ways To Improve Your Leadership Skills in Nursing


#1: Get Involved in Mentorship

As a nurse, you can find a mentor and be a mentor to someone else. A good mentor has many skills you want to acquire and can provide support and guidance as you encounter difficulties in your career.

Becoming a mentor yourself can give you a safe and perhaps more informal, low-pressure opportunity to practice leadership skills, such as effective communication. If you are a mentor to a younger nurse, you will be exposed to a fresh perspective on nursing trends and have a chance to see firsthand how serving and guiding another person can positively impact the workplace.


#2: Be a Lifelong Learner

Take advantage of opportunities to further your education, experience, and skills. These come in many forms, including:

  • Leadership and personal development classes: Grow in your ability to do self-assessments, which will hopefully lead to self-improvement.
  • Graduate level training: Certification of advanced training or degrees assures your patients and colleagues of your competencies.
  • Education workshops, seminars, and conferences: Increase your knowledge base and network with other nurse leaders.

Trusted Nurse Staffing offers Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to help you keep current on the newest techniques and practices in patient care as well as changes in the industry. Visit our website today to learn more about our CEUs and our certification reimbursements.


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#3: Work on Your Communication Skills

Travel nursing is a great way to hone in on your communication skills because it exposes you to diverse settings with unique needs. As you practice communicating in these settings, you should get a better feel for what is universally effective in terms of communication style, force, and content.

Listening is the first element of communication. Learn to listen actively to patients, peers, and administration and to communicate your needs in writing and speech. Doing so with precision and accuracy tends to encourage active listening in others as well.


#4: Join Professional Organizations

Get an active membership in multiple nursing associations or organizations that offer opportunities for leadership development, such as:

  • Volunteering
  • Serving on committees within the organization
  • State and national nursing conferences

These are great ways to develop a professional network of support where resources and experience are shared to help everyone involved excel in the field of nursing.


#5: Develop Self-Awareness and Confidence

Self-awareness and confidence enhance your work relationships because they make you a more conscientious and trustworthy person, and people are drawn to those qualities rather than to timidity and insecurity.

Self-aware leaders exercise emotional restraint to avoid communicating what is not helpful to their teams or patients. Setting a positive tone for the whole team is crucial for leaders. It might be an overlooked facet of your work life if you are not accustomed to leading others, but even the lowest-level workers can spread inspiration and cheer with a good attitude.

Don’t just build this in yourself, but also work to foster it in others. Encourage and guide those who seem timid or unsure.


#6: Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Part of self-awareness is knowing what you’re good at and what needs improvement, then taking steps to remedy your shortcomings. 

Some leadership qualities probably come more naturally to you than others. Self-examination or self-analytical tools such as personality quizzes can help you identify weaknesses that you can work on. 

Consistent, active reflection about the effectiveness of your management in various situations will be educational in itself. Adopting this habit will allow you to learn from your mistakes and grow steadily toward your goal of becoming a nurse leader.


#7: Be Positive

Nursing is a tough job and it can be easy to get bogged down. Maintain the mentality that you’re all in this together and can solve any problem. 

Keep your eyes open for ways to encourage others and you will be pleased to experience how contagious positivity can be. Advocate for others whenever you are in a position to do so. A team holds together much better when its members offer each other mutual support, and you can set an example.


#8: Learn to Delegate

A good leader doesn’t try to do everything themselves. Help build your team by letting everyone share the load and take on tasks they excel at. 

The sense of success that comes from contributing positively to reaching the team’s goals is encouraging and helps create a sense of harmony among team members.

Furthermore, good nurses will be grateful when you entrust them with responsibilities because it means you trust them to be capable and willing to fulfill them. They will probably wish to show you that your trust was not misplaced. If, however, you try to do it all yourself because you are afraid to entrust the responsibilities to others, it might lead to a sense of powerlessness on the part of your team members.  


#9: Develop Critical Thinking and Decision Making Skills

These are essential skills for good nurses, especially those taking leadership positions. As a nurse, you encounter complex situations every day. These skills may help you: 

  1. Identify challenges
  2. Evaluate available options for addressing challenges
  3. Make informed decisions that will be most helpful to your colleagues and patients
  4. Effectively implement strategies to solve problems


#10: Be Accountable for Your Actions

The best leaders take responsibility. If you mess up, admit it and then decide how you can rectify the mistake. This is both honest and honorable — two other qualities of a respectable leader.


Exploring Different Nursing Leadership Styles

The following nursing leadership styles have been identified as the most common. You might see yourself or the leaders you’ve served under as fitting into one style more than any other.

  • Transformational: Transformational leaders are enthusiastic and charismatic people who work to inspire individuals and the team as a whole as they work toward achieving a shared vision. Leaders of this style are instrumental in carrying out large changes and improvements in an organization.
  • Transactional: This style involves motivating team members to perform tasks through rewards and punishments. It helps ensure that short-term goals and tight deadlines are met but may impact team members’ job satisfaction and does not foster the development of long-term relationships.
  • Democratic: Democratic leaders encourage team members to participate together to make decisions and manage work. This helps to improve job satisfaction and foster collaborative relationships. Decision-making can take longer when everyone is involved, but this style helps develop a new relationship between leadership and a group.
  • Autocratic: Autocratic leaders make decisions and delegate to others without considering their input. They tend to be self-reliant and highly structured individuals who expect compliance with rules and orders. While this type of leadership doesn’t leave room for error or personal input, it is especially helpful in emergencies when decisions must be made and tasks delegated quickly.
  • Laissez-faire: A laissez-faire leader allows nurses to work without direct supervision or guidance. This can be a particularly effective style if the nurse leader is in charge of highly skilled and motivated staff. The leader does make decisions and guides when necessary but, for the most part, allows the group to drive the decision-making and problem-solving process.
  • Servant: Servant leaders strive to enable team members to work optimally by providing them with teaching, tools, and collegial support. They don’t mind sharing power, listening to others’ input, and putting others first.


best ways to improve leadership skills in nursing


What Is the Most Effective Leadership Style in Nursing?

Evidence suggests that the best leaders are not so narrowly defined. Instead, they incorporate elements from two or more leadership styles as each situation requires. The skill lies in knowing when to use which strategies to achieve optimal performance.

It’s also important to define “effective” leadership. Is it leadership that results in positive experiences and health outcomes for patients or in nurse satisfaction and retention? 

There are many variables involved in determining the effectiveness of a given style, and this makes it difficult to proclaim any one superior to the others.


Trusted Nurse Staffing Helps Build and Support Nurse Leaders

If you would like ongoing support as you seek to build your leadership skills as a travel nurse, Trusted Nurse Staffing provides this kind of help and more.

Talk with one of our representatives about your goals and receive a tailored list of placements that satisfy your preferences and match your abilities and training.  After you have chosen which to pursue, you will be guided through the process of securing a placement. 

While you’re working on an assignment, Trusted Nurse Staffing is here to advocate for you and to provide counsel at any time. Contact us today to explore opportunities for developing leadership skills as a travel nurse.


how to improve leadership skills in nursing