5 Tips for Excelling as a Nursing Leader

Any organization would be in complete chaos without strong leadership to assemble all the members into a smooth operation. The importance of strong leadership became quite apparent when the COVID-19 pandemic multiplied the demand in the healthcare sector.

In times of crisis, proper management is of crucial importance.

A good example would be nursing. Some focus on climbing the ladder to success, but some enter because of the inherent nature to care.

Fortunately, the healthcare industry offers employees numerous growth opportunities.

One thing to note is that nurse leadership demands more than strong leadership skills. As a nurse leader, you are tasked with ensuring quality patient care, organizing your team to achieve this goal, and maintaining an environment that benefits the patients and the employees.

To meet this end, you need more than just your professional education; the following tips will help make you a good fit for any nurse leadership role.

1. Always be prepared

Always be prepared

Nursing is all about being prepared to deal with unexpected situations and not being taken off guard; minor lapses in judgment or delayed responses can be costly and sometimes even put the patient’s life at risk.

This holds true even for nurse leadership roles; yes, as a nurse leader, you might have less direct interaction with patients, but you will have a more significant responsibility. You’re expected to ensure your team is prepared for emergencies.

Firstly, being prepared includes having the right knowledge, skill, expertise, and experience. Formal education and higher degree courses like an MSN will help you achieve, polish, and practice such skills.

Secondly, you must be on top of all the details about patients under your supervision; this is important so that you can identify any imminent needs and prepare in advance for them. If someone will need a ventilator very soon, ensure room and equipment are available.

2. Find yourself a mentor

As strange as it may sound, even nurse leaders can benefit from a mentor; yes, most nurse leaders are mentors to their junior nurses, but there is always room for improvement.

When you’re just starting in a leadership position, you might juggle many unfamiliar tasks and face problems you least expected.

Instead of trying to figure it out yourself, having someone with more experience and training guide you would be helpful.

To look for the perfect mentor, sharpen your observation skills and spot people you think can influence, motivate, and engage others, whose leadership style you look up to, and in whom you see an effective nurse leader.

Seek direct help from your mentor whenever you are troubled. Then observe them keenly in their daily interaction and pick admirable skills. How do they manage conflicts? What strategy do they use to motivate and empower others? Which tasks require stronger control than others? What is the best way to communicate with the team effectively?

An effective mentee asks questions, is proactive, seeks feedback, and maintains an open line of communication. Make the most out of your mentorship experience this way.

3. Cultivate positive relationships

It is time you put your introvert tendencies in the back seat and let the social being in you surface. Good leadership heavily depends on fostering positive relationships with your team; if you don’t, you cannot make your team open up.

It feels good to have a superior who has an open-door policy and is easy to talk to, right? Be that person for your team. Show interest in your fellow nurses, make them feel valued and welcome, and work on developing trust.

As a nurse leader, you can also influence relationships among your team members. You can allow for combined lunch breaks, conduct team meetings, initiate group activities, and assign tasks to encourage your team members to interact.

Even if this seems unnecessary at first, you will see the positive impact this has on the performance of your team as a whole very soon.

4. Work on your leadership style

You must have learned about the various leadership styles that can be adopted anywhere or another. In nursing, the best leadership style is one that considers the needs of both the nursing staff and the patients.

The leadership style you adopt has significant implications for the productivity and efficiency of your team.

The most popular leadership styles are transformational, laissez-faire, democratic, autocratic, and servant. Of these, the transformational style is considered the gold standard style for nurse leaders.

It is known to improve patient outcomes and increase job satisfaction among the nursing staff.

In the transformational style, the leader emphasizes the employee’s roles, motivates them to perform best at these, and works towards successful outcomes. Such leaders are enthusiastic and charismatic, focusing on motivating their teams to perform their best.

5. Give your team the opportunity for growth

Give your team the opportunity for growth

In times when it seems easier to assign the task to someone else instead of training the team member doing the job, don’t. Teach and coach, don’t take over. It is easy for leaders to fall into the authoritarian trap and take away the opportunity for growth from the team members.

If someone you assigned a task is having trouble completing it, invest time to train and educate them. A few additional guidelines here will benefit your team’s overall productivity in the long run because you are ultimately polishing your team’s skills.

Also, when you are habitual in performing specific tasks and never delegating them to others, you take away their opportunity to learn something new. When you aren’t short on time, delegate minor tasks to others and let them polish their skills and learn something new.

Final words

Nursing is undoubtedly no walk in the park, and nurse leadership is even harder because the healthcare industry is demanding. Most healthcare workers who begin as nurse practitioners have their eyes on any opportunity for advancement.

As a new or aspiring nurse leader, always be prepared, associate yourself with a nurse mentor, cultivate good relationships, adopt an effective leadership style, and give your team opportunity for growth.

Nurse leadership might be new and challenging initially, but you will soon get the hang of it.

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