8 Ways To Become A Better Nurse Leader

Leadership in nursing plays an essential role in the delivery of high-quality healthcare services. Nurse leaders guide their teams and act as advocates, communicators, and decision-makers in an increasingly complex healthcare environment. They must, therefore, be well-equipped with the right skills and knowledge.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a job growth rate of 6% for registered nurses and an even faster rate of 40% for nurse practitioners through 2031. Meanwhile, the supply of new nurses is dwindling because of a shortage of nursing faculty and high rates of burnout.

These facts highlight nurse leaders’ vital role in managing, retaining, and motivating their nursing teams. This article highlights eight key ways to become an effective nurse leader.

Developing effective communication skills

Clear and concise communication can eliminate misunderstandings, ensure everyone is on the same page, and promote a healthy work environment.

To improve communication skills, nurse leaders can take courses on interpersonal skills, encourage feedback from their team, and practice reflective listening. It’s worth mentioning how nurse leaders who have honed their communication skills can articulate their thoughts better, contributing to efficient team coordination and patient care.

Fostering team collaboration

A collaborative work environment within the nursing team can significantly enhance patient care. Nurse leaders should strive to build trust and cooperation, where every team member feels valued for their contribution. This can be achieved by promoting transparency, acknowledging individual achievements, and encouraging team members to voice their opinions.

Leadership practices such as these promote a sense of unity and collective responsibility in the team. Success stories of team collaboration in nursing often highlight how it leads to higher patient satisfaction rates and a more streamlined healthcare delivery process.

Embracing continuous learning and education

Nurse leaders must stay updated with the latest medical knowledge and advancements in healthcare. Continuing education can broaden a nurse’s skill set, enhance their competence, and keep them at the forefront of their field. This can be achieved through various methods, including attending workshops, participating in seminars, and engaging in professional reading.

Technology has opened up more accessible educational avenues. Online platforms offer a plethora of courses designed to enhance specific skills. Additionally, these platforms provide the flexibility to learn at one’s own pace and convenience. For instance, several online clinical nurse leader programs can be instrumental in honing leadership skills and providing exposure to current healthcare trends.

Emphasizing patient-centered care

Patient-centered care is a fundamental nursing principle; it places the patient’s needs, preferences, and values at the center of decision-making. Nurse leaders should advocate for and emphasize the importance of patient-centered care within their teams. That can include training team members on effective patient communication, involving patients in decision-making, and fostering a culture of empathy and compassion.

By doing so, nurse leaders can ensure care delivery is personalized, respectful, and responsive to individual patient needs. Implementing patient-centered care strategies has significantly improved patient outcomes and satisfaction levels.

Incorporating evidence-based practice

Evidence-based practice involves integrating clinical expertise with the best available research evidence in the decision-making process for patient care. Nurse leaders should encourage evidence-based practices in their teams. They can do this by promoting a culture of critical thinking, facilitating access to the latest research, and leading by example by using evidence-based guidelines in their practice.

Evidence-based practices can significantly enhance the quality of patient care. Nurse leaders who have successfully incorporated evidence-based practices have reported improved patient outcomes and increased efficiency in care delivery.

Cultivating emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence – the ability to understand, use, and manage one’s emotions positively – is another critical aspect of effective nursing leadership. It helps nurse leaders to empathize with their team members, manage stress, overcome challenges, and make thoughtful decisions. Nurse leaders can cultivate emotional intelligence by being self-aware, practicing self-regulation, motivating themselves and others, understanding the emotions of others, and managing relationships effectively. Real-life examples reveal that nurse leaders with high emotional intelligence can create a more positive work environment, leading to better team performance and patient outcomes.

Demonstrating ethical leadership

Ethical leadership requires more than just adhering to professional standards; it’s about demonstrating unwavering commitment to these guidelines. Nurse leaders are pivotal in creating an atmosphere prioritizing ethics, fairness, and respect. They must ensure that their actions and decisions align with nursing ethics, promoting an environment that emphasizes integrity and transparency.

Nurse leaders are also instrumental in resolving ethical dilemmas that often arise in healthcare, requiring careful judgment and empathy. How nurse leaders manage these situations directly affects their team’s morale and the quality of patient care. They need to incorporate ethical considerations in their leadership strategy, as it fosters trust, strengthens professional relationships, and supports a high standard of practice.

Prioritizing self-care

Like everyone else, nurse leaders must ensure they take care of their physical and mental well-being to perform at their best. Given the demanding and often high-stress nature of nursing, self-care should be seen as a crucial component of effective leadership.

Leaders in the field can serve as models by promoting a balanced lifestyle that incorporates sufficient rest, a nutritious diet, regular physical activity, and stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness or meditation. This proactive approach to wellness enables nurse leaders to maintain their health and reduce the risk of burnout and sends a powerful message to their teams about the importance of self-care.


Nurse leadership is a multifaceted role that requires a unique combination of skills and attributes. Nurses can excel in their leadership by embracing continuous learning, developing practical communication skills, fostering team collaboration, emphasizing patient-centered care, incorporating evidence-based practice, cultivating emotional intelligence, demonstrating ethical leadership, and prioritizing self-care. These methods are not exhaustive but serve as a foundation for becoming a better nurse leader. The journey to effective leadership is ongoing, but with determination and the right approach, every nurse can positively impact their field.

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