How Can Nurses Enhance Their Leadership Skills?

Nurses have more influence than many people recognize. Their frequent interactions with patients and colleagues help them better grasp organizational changes that will improve care and workplace efficiency. The “Journal of Nursing Management” notes that “promoting clinical leadership among frontline nurses is critical given their potential impact on patient outcomes and experiences, team performance outcomes, nurses’ job satisfaction and retention, quality, safety and effectiveness of care.”

To make a lasting difference, nurses must unlock their leadership potential. Radford University’s online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program introduces strategies for enhancing leadership qualities. Through courses like RN Nursing Leadership and Management, graduates develop the skills to take on leadership roles within healthcare settings.

Soft Skills Vs. Hard Skills in Nurse Leaders

In nursing, hard and soft skills are essential for quality patient care. Hard skills involve technical knowledge and clinical competencies, like administering medication and interpreting lab results. These skills are crucial for safe healthcare practices.

On the other hand, soft skills focus on the personal and emotional qualities that help nurses connect with patients and families and work well with colleagues. These include communication, empathy and leadership. Soft skills assist nurses in building trusting relationships and handling sensitive situations with care.

The 7 Nurse Leadership Styles

Effective nurse leadership encompasses a variety of styles, each with unique approaches and applications. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), the seven nurse leadership styles are:

  1. Autocratic: relies on quick decision-making
  2. Democratic: prioritizes collaboration
  3. Transformational: values mentorship and empowerment
  4. Transactional: makes short-term goals
  5. Servant: focuses on employee development
  6. Laissez-faire: emphasizes independence
  7. Situational: adapts leadership approach to the situation

What Soft Skills Do Nurse Leaders Need?

Regardless of leadership style, nurse leaders benefit from developing various skills, often above and beyond clinical competencies. Many of the traits that contribute to solid leadership center around soft skills. The more of these characteristics that nurses develop, the more well-rounded their practice and leadership abilities become.

Communication Skills

Good communication is a cornerstone of excellent nurse leadership, which begins with active listening skills to comprehend the full scope of each patient’s unique personal experience as it relates to their health condition. Nurses must speak clearly and kindly with patients and their families to ensure they understand their diagnoses and treatment plans. They must also communicate well with other nurses and healthcare professionals to share patient information and work together smoothly. Strong communication skills build trust and keep patients and staff safe.

Team Building

Nurse leaders need good team-building skills to help staff and colleagues work well together. Indeed notes that nurse leaders model good working relationships and forge a common purpose, creating a sense of community among teammates. Leaders skilled at team building know how to leverage each team member’s strengths to improve the care cycle. In doing so, nurse leaders boost morale and patient outcomes.

Critical Thinking and Decision-Making

Nurses use critical thinking skills to make quick, accurate decisions in fast-paced healthcare environments. These skills allow nurses to analyze complex situations and develop solutions that provide the best care for their patients and teammates.

Conflict Resolution

Disagreements are bound to happen in healthcare, so conflict resolution skills are essential for managing these issues effectively. Nurses who handle conflict well can protect their relationships with coworkers and minimize disruptions to patient care. Plus, when nurses can smoothly resolve disputes, everyone feels understood and respected, further improving the work environment.

Continuous Improvement

Because healthcare best practices are constantly evolving, nurses dedicated to continuous improvement with a forward-thinking mindset can more easily integrate new approaches to care. Additionally, these nurses promote a culture of excellence and innovation, leading by example and encouraging their colleagues to deliver the best possible patient care.

Nurses today can set themselves apart by becoming leaders in their work as well as throughout their communities. Radford University’s online RN to BSN program assists nurses in identifying and honing their leadership style and other soft skills, preparing them to become change-makers in their healthcare institutions.

Learn more about Radford University’s online RN to BSN program.

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