7 Ways Nurses Can Improve Their Leadership Skills

7 Ways Nurses Can Improve Their Leadership Skills

Good nurse leadership skills allow nurses who aspire to be leaders to help others work towards accomplishing both individual and organizational goals. Once you have been a nurse for some time, you may want to become an effective nurse leader, especially if you want to help implement change in nursing. Nurses can become leaders in different capacities, whether through working with patients or working as administrators in the healthcare system. Improving your leadership skills can not only help you become a better nurse and leader but it can also help advance your career and get into an administrative or managerial position. Here are some of the best ways for nurses to hone their leadership skills.

Watch and Emulate Other Nurse Leaders

Nurses who want to become strong leaders can watch and emulate nurses who they find to be highly successful and effective. Nurses can learn a lot by observing the actions and habits of the nurses they admire, and then taking the best of the lessons learned to heart and applying them to their own practices. Nurses can also educate themselves through observing less effective nurse leaders and learning from the mistakes they make.


Mentorship is one of the best ways to gain the skills and knowledge that are required to become an effective nurse leader. Nurses who want to pursue leadership positions should strive to find a mentor and to be mentors themselves. Seeking out individuals you admire and asking them to mentor you will impart skills that are required to engage, motivate and lead. By mentoring other nurses, you can pass on this knowledge while honing your leadership skills at the same time. Many nurses know that for the institution of nursing to get better as a whole, they need to not only learn from those who came before them but also teach those who will come after them.

Continuous Learning

One of the best ways to improve nursing leadership skills is to take personal development classes, take leadership classes, or enroll in an advanced nursing egress with a focus on nurse leadership. The best nurses are always looking for a way to stay current on the latest technological advancements and research in healthcare. They also try to understand how both have an impact on the level of care they provide and try to pass on this information and knowledge to other nurses.

Advanced graduate degrees prepare nurses with executive knowledge and competencies which help assure other nurses that they have the advanced and specialized knowledge required to provide safe and quality care and to handle leadership roles. Nurses who want to complete such advanced graduate degrees can enroll in online DNP leadership programs at Baylor University.

Lastly, nurses can pursue opportunities for continuous learning through seminars, conferences, and education workshops. Here, they can get the opportunity to expand their knowledge while interacting with nurses in the leadership roles they aspire for.

Step Up

It is understandable to not want to take on responsibilities for which you do not have an official title yet. However, leaning into available opportunities is one of the best ways to create a clear leadership trajectory in your career path. Stepping up can come in many ways, from volunteering for tasks that are not assigned to you or even providing support to nurses who need it but do not know that they need it. It is also a good idea to volunteer for activities that upper management needs someone to attend.

Stepping up allows you to be visible, and this visibility puts you in a better position to be noticed by those who may be looking for individuals to groom for future nurse leadership positions.

Improve Your Communication Skills

Communication is critical, especially for nurse leaders. Being a leader requires that you have stellar spoken and written communication skills. Communication skills are not only about passing on information to others as you also need to hone your listening skills. Listening is especially important when you are interacting with nurse leaders and would like to learn from them. However, it is not always about listening as you also want to speak up politely and clearly have something to contribute so other nurse leaders can see that you can provide something of value.

When you hone your listening skills, you improve your leadership skills and learn how to motivate, persuade, influence, and guide others just like the leader you are meant to be.

Be Curious

Curiosity can help you look for and develop new ideas, solutions, and innovations to existing problems. This is especially true when you remember that nurse leaders are supposed and expected to be problem solvers. When you see something not working or an area that needs improvement, you should always ask yourself why things are the way they are and try to think of novel and innovative solutions to these challenges and problems.

Curiosity also helps you keep your mind, eyes, and ears open and can open a lot more doors than you would otherwise have had access to if you had not been curious.

Develop Relational and Emotional Intelligence

Although the term ‘emotional intelligence’ might seem relatively new, the concept behind it is not. Emotional intelligence is very important in the corporate and business world and if you want to get into a leadership or administrative position, you need to start thinking of healthcare as an organization. Emotional intelligence is very important when it comes to noticing, recognizing, and responding to your emotions as well as the emotions of others. Relational intelligence then helps you use this understanding to build relationships with others.

Many leaders understand the value of developing both their emotional and relational intelligence. It can help elevate your position and lead to increased respect and loyalty among colleagues.

While becoming a nurse leader can be a long and complicated process, there are several ways you can hone your leadership skills in preparation for a nurse leadership role. While you might need to change the way you think and how you see people in the world, much of what is needed to prepare is already ingrained in you.