15 Ways to Succeed in Your Career as a Nurse Leader

15 Ways to Succeed in Your Career as a Nurse Leader

Are you a nurse looking to advance your career in a leadership role? Becoming a nurse leader requires dedication, hard work, and the right set of skills.

As a leader in nursing, your success will depend on understanding healthcare’s organizational, systems and policy perspectives. It can be challenging to navigate the ever-changing healthcare landscape, but with the right strategies, you can set yourself up for success.

As a nurse leader, your role is essential in providing the best possible care for patients and creating a positive work environment. To succeed in your career as a nurse leader, it’s vital to keep up with the latest developments in healthcare and develop strategies to lead your team effectively.

For this reason, applying critical thinking where you work is imperative for today’s nurses. You will have the task of communicating effectively with your peers, managers, and colleagues within your organization. The following are some strategies used by leaders in nursing, and they relate to these three areas:

Organizational strategies

The first step towards understanding the organizational perspective is to be a lifelong learner. It is important to continually learn about what is occurring within the organization where you work.

The ability to ask questions of your colleagues and seek answers will help you understand how things operate within the organization. This is necessary from a strategic level down to a day-to-day operational level.

It will also help you to create a personal relationship with your manager and colleagues. You can freely negotiate and collaborate to achieve success when you have questions or concerns.

Systems strategies

A crucial part of systems strategies is understanding the relationship between systems and quality care. It will require you to look at the techniques used in healthcare.

These profoundly impact the quality of care delivered to patients and families. Many organizations, including the Joint Commission, look closely at many systems to ensure they are safe and effective.

A more important goal for system strategists is looking at how different parts of the organization interact to ensure that your team is in sync with your goals. It may be helpful to talk about these interactions within an organization.

This action may include how you can improve management to help provide better patient care or work together with other departments to improve operations and patient care.

Policy strategies

When working from the policy perspective, you need to understand what is happening in your organization. It’s also good to know the progress within the healthcare system concerning healthcare legislation.

This will help you identify opportunities where you can support changes that will improve the quality of care your patients receive. It is advisable that you also work to influence changes that will improve working conditions for nurses by addressing staffing levels and resources, workload management, and compensation.

When advocating as a career leader in nursing, be consistent but flexible about how you approach decision-makers based on your knowledge of the situation and their unique personalities.

What is nursing leadership?

Nursing leadership is a process by which the leader of an organization provides vision, direction, and day-to-day direction that enables the work of nurses. It considers many factors, such as communication and leadership styles.

Nurses usually look to leaders for support in problem-solving, conflict resolution, decision-making, and staffing difficulties. A nursing leader can bring about change and promote innovation to meet the needs of patients, clients, and staff.

In doing so, leadership positions require vision, commitment, and values that benefit nursing development in an organization. The good thing is that you can apply different formats depending on the nursing field.

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Roles of a nurse leader

The key functions of a nurse leader include the following:

Provide clinical leadership

The nurse leader is responsible for providing clinical direction and supporting care delivery. This can be through patient care, education, facilitating policy changes that promote quality, or involvement in research.

Influential nurse leaders use their knowledge and expertise to support their organization, are well-educated in care, set goals for excellence, and impact those goals.

Offer team leadership

The nurse leader creates an environment that supports a team rather than being a “dictator.” They provide an open-door policy and allow their team members to have input into the leadership’s decisions. Additionally, they demonstrate trustworthiness and compassion and positively influence their team environment.

Provide continuous leadership

As the nurse leader, you must provide ongoing feedback and support to those most knowledgeable about their roles on the team. You can help your nurses by considering their needs as stated or implied in the care plan and adjusting your leadership style accordingly.

As an administrator, it is also essential to recognize a team’s varying levels of responsibility. The whole team must deliver helpful care rather than just relying on one person, who may need to be more knowledgeable, to provide it.

This means that, in addition to understanding what each nurse does daily, you must also be able to differentiate between tasks appropriate for the administration and those best handled on a case-by-case basis.

Ensure integration of standards and innovation

One of your primary responsibilities as a nurse leader is ensuring that all aspects of nursing integrate into one seamless whole for clinical purposes and organizational policy. To do this, you need to develop a plan of action that is both innovative and highly detailed.

You must understand the roots of any problem and how to overcome it. If you focus on advancing innovation within your organization, you will likely be a hero for your vision and leadership.

Provide advocacy

As a nurse leader, you are responsible for advocating and acting on behalf of your patients. One way to provide advocacy for them is to get involved in the patient’s social forums, such as Facebook.

You may even have patients who wish to share their experiences with others. Nurses can advocate for their patients by participating on committees or boards of directors and attending special events.

Fulfill other duties as defined by your role

As a nurse leader, you must know the expectations of you following your role. You will need to form a plan of action to know precisely how to execute your duties.

Every resource available to you should help you to do your job well. There are expectations in every walk of life, and as a nurse leader, these are no different.

We expect many things from people who serve in leadership roles, and if you want to be effective at what you do, you must understand your key responsibilities.

Ways to succeed in your career as a nurse leader

To be an effective leader, a nurse leader must have the following skills:


As a nurse leader, you will make decisions and take actions that will shape the nursing unit. It’s essential that you make quick, thoughtful decisions and take calculated risks.

You likely have a good idea of what your team needs, but sometimes you must improve when prioritizing work. It is essential to research different options and develop an effective plan moving forward.

As a nurse leader, avoid getting caught up in paralyzing indecision. Always find solutions that everyone can agree on and help solve any issue.


When it comes to taking care of people and their overall health, nurses are highly skilled. Nurses are more likely to be board-certified than doctors.

As a nurse leader, you will traditionally play a significant role in the health of your nursing unit. You’ll need to ensure that everyone works together and takes care of patients effectively.

From providing direction to evaluating staff and staying up to date with new research and technological advances, you can expect to demonstrate new ways of doing things as your responsibilities increase.


One of the essential qualities you will need as a nurse leader is the ability to lead with confidence and care. Your team is counting on you to ensure that patients receive the proper treatment and that everyone gets along at work.

From observing how work is being done, giving feedback on your employee’s performance, and ensuring that updates are correct, it is crucial that you effectively lead your team. Your team can accomplish their tasks with minimal mistakes when you make use of the right leadership skills.

Interpersonal skills

As a nurse leader, you often work with patients and their families. It is important to remember that different people have varying backgrounds and needs.

Some people may have strong religious beliefs, while others will be more comfortable if things go by the book. It is necessary you communicate effectively with your patients and their families.

You can ease the tension in an otherwise stressful situation by showing empathy towards others. You will also likely work with doctors, nurses, and other staff members. Working as a team is necessary to ensure that everyone meets patient needs and provides proper care.

Conflict resolution

Conflict can be a part of any work environment, and there are several ways to handle issues. While respecting and addressing differences, it is vital to work with other team members to set individual goals and objectives. You must also communicate any personal issues that may affect how people work.

When your team works together, everyone will perform at their best. For a successful team to get things done, you’ll need to work collaboratively with others. If conflicts arise, ensure you know how to deal with them as quickly as possible.


While working as a nurse, listening to your patients and giving them the best care is essential. As a nurse leader, you must do more than manage patients.

You’ll likely need to deal with other departments, such as billing and public relations. You will also communicate regularly with your peers and team members to complete tasks correctly.

As a nurse leader, you must maintain open lines of communication with your team members so that everyone is on the same page. If conflicts arise, address them effectively before they become too disruptive.


Motivating others can often be challenging but can make the process smoother. You will likely need to encourage your team to get the best work done as a nurse leader. When working with other departments, you may need to motivate them so that they can provide the necessary care.

It is also essential to stay motivated to address any challenges that may arise and keep stress levels low. When you motivate your staff members, they are more likely to have a positive attitude toward their work and be more productive overall.

Time management

Time will always be an essential component for any business. You’ll need to ensure everyone is doing their job within specific time constraints. As a nurse leader, you’ll have to allocate time for specific tasks and work efficiently.

Appropriate time management will help your team work more effectively overall. When you manage time correctly, everyone is working on the same schedule. This means that your entire department can make progress.

Predictive analytics help leaders make better decisions by anticipating future possibilities and showing how past, current, and anticipated future events unfold. The intent is always to help leaders make better decisions by anticipating future opportunities and considering how past, present, and scheduled future events will unfold.

Commitment to educational and professional development

You’ll need to continue your education to succeed as a nurse leader. Nursing leaders must attend conferences and training to stay up to date with the latest technology and trends.

You will also likely need to participate in seminars or short courses to gain skills that will help your team work more effectively. Always maintain an updated professional skillset by attending professional development courses.


As a nurse leader, you’ll need to know how you work best and what tasks will motivate you the most. While some people may be more inspired by different things, ensuring everyone works towards the same goal is vital.

When departments are more motivated, they will likely be able to accomplish tasks more efficiently. As a nurse leader, you must know how to deal with pressures and stress within yourself.

Work ethic and attitude

You must have a strong work ethic and a positive attitude to succeed in this position. You’ll need to be creative when it comes down to solving problems and assessing work performance.

You will also have to work efficiently and have a positive attitude. You’ll need to maintain a positive attitude to get the best results from your team. You should also be able to work well on your own and make reasonable decisions when needed.

As a nurse leader, you must do your best for your patients despite the stress.

Learn from experience

Nurses who want to be effective leaders should be open-minded and learn from their experiences. You will likely make mistakes while you develop in your leadership position, but these mistakes can teach you valuable lessons that will help you lead effectively in the future. You can use these past experiences as opportunities for growth and change.

Take time to observe the leaders around you. You can gain insight into what leadership styles work best based on how they lead and how their staff responds.

Of course, it is important to realize that not all leaders are effective. It is necessary for you to determine whether someone is a good leader based on your values, morals, and ethics.

Be a good example

When you are an effective leader, you can be an excellent example for your staff. You need to work to set a positive model for your employees.

 For instance, you should hold yourself to the same standards that you expect from others. You should also be willing to speak up when things are not going well and offer help to those who need it.

Have integrity

Integrity is fundamental in nursing leadership positions. Nurses who want to be effective leaders must have integrity when making decisions and giving orders.

This means that you should always make decisions based on what is best for patients rather than based on your personal feelings or the requests of family members.

Use open-ended questions

When you want to be an effective leader, you must be able to ask open-ended questions. A well-timed open-ended question often provides valuable information that guides decision-making.

Open-ended questions involve asking a patient or other person a genuine question without implying anything about the answer, and they give the person ample time and space to think about how they want to respond.

Final thoughts

Identifying what each nurse needs from their immediate environment is an important skill when leading a team of nurses. This is necessary for the team to do their utmost best work to ensure quality patient care.

We can expect nurses to engage and have motivation in their work. Successful leaders are simply successful because they know what levers need pulling for them and their teams to thrive.

A leader’s success depends on their ability to determine the needs and concerns of clinicians, patients, and their organization, so they must meet them while resolving other organizational issues. Clinicians understand their needs from a personal level.

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