7 Signs that You’re Ready to Move into a Nursing Leadership Role


Strategies for Nursing Leadership | Duquesne University

Nursing is always in need of great leaders. Nurses work as part of multidisciplinary teams and have to face all sorts of challenges on an everyday basis. Without strong leaders, teams become unfocused and are more prone to making mistakes. Not only does poor leadership affect the quality of care, but it can destroy the morale of any team and lead to more nurses falling out.

Great leaders, on the other hand, inspire, become advocates for both their team members and patients, and can make changes on the ground and in the profession as a whole. Let’s take a look at a few signs that you could potentially be a great nurse leader.

You’re Interested in the Administrative Part of Nursing

Some nurses are satisfied with working with patients and are mainly concerned with care. But, if you’ve always been curious about the administrative side of running a healthcare facility or are finding yourself questioning buying decisions or how resources are being allocated, then this is a sign that you could be a great leader. If you love making recommendations and you notice that higher-ups are respecting your opinion, this is another sign that you have what it takes to fill leadership roles.

You’re Eager to Learn

Nurse leaders always have to be on top of recent changes in the industry. Efficient nurse leaders have to be knowledgeable and can afford to have people under them who have more expertise. They cannot be out of touch with the current reality on the ground either.

Leaders have to be ready to learn new managerial practices and adapt their leadership style to new realities. These are all things you will have to learn through continuing education. Most leadership roles also require that you have an advanced degree, with the executive nurse leader DNP being one of the most sought after.

Thankfully, online education has made it easier than ever for nurses to get their credentials. You could get online nursing leadership courses from schools like Baylor University and get all the qualifications needed for top leadership roles. Not only will you be able to fit your work schedule around your studies, but you will start integrating principles as you go that could make you a better leader where you are.

You’re Already Making Changes on the Floor

If you’re the kind of nurse everyone goes to when they have questions, or for general advice, then you might be a nurse leader already without realizing it. This shows that people respect your opinion and expertise. Another sign that you could be a great nurse leader is if you’re not afraid to take initiative. You’re the one taking charge of ordering and acting as a liaison between departments to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible during shifts. If you hear patients or relatives complaining, you don’t walk away and are ready to handle the situation. These are all traits of a true leader.

You Like Making Your Team Better

What’s your reaction when you hear about improvement projects? Do you roll your eyes or are you actually excited by them? Good nurse leaders are all about continuous improvement. They want better conditions for their staff, better cooperation, and better outcomes for patients. They also love being part of a team and building them. If you’re a real team player and you love being part of or leading high-performing teams, you should consider becoming a nurse leader.

You’re Perceptive and a Great Listener

Being a nurse leader requires good communication. Efficient teams are those where interaction and communication are ongoing. If you can’t maintain a good rapport with your team, it will eventually fall apart and the performance will suffer. You’ll also have difficulty getting things out of nurses when you know deep down that there may be something wrong with them.

This is why being perceptive is extremely important for nurse leaders as well. You have to know when trouble is brewing. You should be able to tell who’s telling the truth if there’s a conflict and pick up on cues that will help you determine who’s the guilty party. You have to be able to tell when one of your nurses is disengaged or on the verge of burnout as well.

Perceptiveness will also help you be a great judge of character, and it’ll help you to build teams better. You’ll be able to identify everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also be able to tell who’s more independent and secure in their role, and which ones need constant positive reinforcement. Being able to adapt your approach and communication style depending on who you’re dealing with will be an incredibly valuable asset to have, and one very few have in this profession.

You’re a Big Picture Thinker

If you naturally see the big picture and constantly think of the consequences of your department’s actions on the whole organization, this is another sign that you’re a great leader. Real nurse leaders are not the ones constantly looking for what’s best for their department. Again, their ultimate goal is better patient outcomes, and they understand the importance of departments working in synergy and having the resources necessary to do their job properly. This is why you won’t see them hoarding supplies or trying to find ways to get preferential treatment for their team to the detriment of others.

You Take Directions Well

Being a nurse leader means that you’ll be leading teams, but also that you’ll be constantly getting directions from upper-level managers. You will have to be ready to accept and implement decisions they’ve made even if you disagree with them. If you don’t have difficulty taking orders from nurses in senior positions even if you know that these decisions are wrong, you may have what it takes to be a good leader.

If you’ve been a regular nurse for many years and are ready for something bigger, you should consider moving into nurse leadership. If you have some or all the traits we’ve just mentioned, you could be a perfect fit for the job.