The Most Important Nurse Leadership Skills

Not all individuals are meant to be leaders. It takes a specific set of skills to rise to leadership roles — in any industry. In healthcare, nurses have a unique opportunity to serve their organizations as administrators and executives. They hold significant responsibilities, including overseeing the organization’s operations, workforce and care delivery processes.

What does it take to get to this level? According to, “nurses who have strongly developed leadership skills are more likely to provide excellent care to their patients. Leadership skills in nursing are also important for furthering the industry, creating innovative treatment and care plans and better meeting the needs of patients.”

For healthcare organizations to run smoothly, they need nurse executives with both soft and hard leadership skills. These tools are necessary for nurses to provide the best care possible to every patient. Radford’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Administration program gives graduates the skills and knowledge to become impactful nurse leaders.

What Makes a Great Nurse Leader? outlines the various reasons nurse leadership skills are important. For example, nurse leadership:

  • Encourages optimal patient care
  • Ensures nursing departments avoid errors
  • Fosters positive change in the healthcare industry
  • Uplifts expectations for incoming nursing professionals

At the core of all nurse leadership skills is communicating clearly and effectively. If a nurse leader is not comprehensive in directives, nursing staff might not understand what they mean, potentially resulting in inadequate or incorrect care and patient harm.

Communication also extends to colleague teamwork. Nurse leaders are responsible for their nursing staff. Therefore, they must unite employees to provide the best care for all patients. Often, nurse leaders help in different areas of the healthcare facility and interact with diverse professionals. Good communication is imperative in these situations.

The best nurse leaders also serve as mentors. They treat each individual respectfully and acknowledge that the work environment can also be a place to learn and improve oneself. They guide nurses toward the right path and ingrain the skills needed to become successful in the field. Many nurses are inspired by their leadership teams and motivated to become leaders in their own right.

Communication is also essential between nurse leaders and the patients within their charge. Patients frequently feel scared or overwhelmed. By implementing effective communication, nurse leaders can work to form bonds with patients and help them feel at ease.

Career Development

To properly develop their leadership skills and ultimately progress their career, nurse leaders will benefit from doing the following:

  • Cultivating a level of self-awareness that encourages others to follow in the same footsteps
  • Setting (and reaching) both short- and long-term goals
  • Continuing to learn and grow as a leader
  • Educating themselves and others about the responsibilities of the nursing profession
  • Thinking about patients in their care and what is best for them

Although the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a few setbacks for workers in the healthcare field, nurse leaders were able to manage their employees and decide the best possible environment for all. An article by Cross Country Healthcare states, “These leaders have managed to balance myriad shifting demands — from supporting nurses on the frontlines to implementing evidence-based care — all the while maintaining calm and contributing to keeping their organization running as smoothly as possible.”

Cultivate Leadership Skills With a Master’s Degree

One way to cultivate leadership skills as a nurse is to further your career and earn your MSN degree. Those who enroll in the online MSN in Nursing Administration program at Radford University will focus on leadership learning and operational skills.

This program allows all students to elevate their careers as influential leaders in the future of nursing. For example, the Organizational Behavior and Human Resources course covers the basics of resource allocation and management in healthcare systems and related organizations. In the Interprofessional Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice Roles course, students analyze advanced nursing practice and clinical administrative leadership roles and the relationships between inter-professional collaborations and clinical outcomes. Students can complete this program in as few as 12 months.

Future graduates will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter roles such as chief nursing officer, director of nursing or nursing administrator.

Learn more about Radford University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program.

Related Articles

Our Commitment to Content Publishing Accuracy

Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only. The nature of the information in all of the articles is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.

The information contained within this site has been sourced and presented with reasonable care. If there are errors, please contact us by completing the form below.

Timeliness: Note that most articles published on this website remain on the website indefinitely. Only those articles that have been published within the most recent months may be considered timely. We do not remove articles regardless of the date of publication, as many, but not all, of our earlier articles may still have important relevance to some of our visitors. Use appropriate caution in acting on the information of any article.

Report inaccurate article content:

Request More Information

Submit this form, and an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to answer your questions.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 877-660-0461

Begin Application Process

Start your application today!
or call 877-660-0461 877-660-0461
for help with any questions you may have.