Leadership in nursing


Leadership in nursing requires nurture and development which is fading in recent times.

Having all-round nursing professionals has become a global challenge owing to resilience of available nurses to take responsibilities. The nursing profession today faces a major challenge in developing future nurse leaders (Mahoney, 2001). All nurses require strong leadership skills to live up to various tasks ahead of them. Mahoney (2001) described that all individuals responsible for giving any form of assistance to others is regarded a leader. Leadership in nursing involves direct patient care and desire to be a positive inspiration to everyone with whom a nurse interacts (Cook, 2001).


Generally, leadership involves individual’s ability to state desired objectives and visions in a situation and guiding other people towards attaining such objectives. In other words, it involves ability to maintain group work and achieve effectiveness in working together. This also means that leaders do not exist where there are no people to be guided. The essence in nursing leadership, therefore, can be broadened to cover all aspects of nursing profession that require nurses to mobilize everyone they interact with, with an aim of meeting some set standards.

There are different styles of leaderships across all professions. It all depends on what people in positions do and how they interact with their juniors in the course of carrying out activities. First style is the autocratic leadership; this is where individuals in power set an organization’s goals on their own without allowing other people to take part in the process (Faugier &Woolnough, 2002). In some instances, leaders strictly adhere to rules and regulations not allowing any exceptions, a style referred to as bureaucratic leadership. On the other hand is participative leadership in which leaders allow juniors to actively take part in the decision making process and are made part of all organization’s endeavors. However, the most effective leadership style is situational leadership; leaders use various styles of leadership rotating from one to the other depending on the circumstances. It allows flexibility and diversity in the way leaders handle different situations (Faugier & Woolnough, 2002). In analyzing leadership in nursing, it is important to comprehend various tactical elements related to nursing job, rather than concentrating on individual’s characteristics. This will enable a broad view of the exact type of leaders to be developed out of nurses.

Skills needed

There are various skills and competencies to look for in developing leadership in nurses. They include; social awareness, self-awareness, ability to manage one’s self and relationship management (Goleman, 1998). Social awareness will determine a nurse’s ability to gauge people’s emotions and identify their consequences to particular actions; it therefore, enables nurses use instincts to make decisions while comprehending the environments in which patients interact (Goleman, 1998). On the other hand, self-awareness will enable nurses handle their own emotions appropriately in all situations and be wise when making a decision. In addition is self-management; which is their ability to adapt to changing circumstances and be rational in all situations however tough they may be. Last is the ability to manage relationships; it is concerned with development, inspiration and influencing other people in the line of duty. This implies that effective nurse leaders should be a positive inspiration to everyone they interact with and handle conflicts justly. Such skills will determine how nurses in leadership positions carry themselves and handle other people too (Goleman, 1998).

Other than the above mentioned personal skills in nurse-leadership, there are still myriad of knowledge and forms of attitudes required in effective nurse leadership. Nurse leaders perform various functions that include; collaboration to provide optimum care, providing information and support, acting as role models and being advocates for health care organizations plus the patients therein (O’Brien, 2010). In addition, nurses should possess personal qualities which include; courage, creativity, confidence, competency and collaboration. Leaders should generally show concern for the needs and objectives of staff members and understand conditions affecting work environment as this will improve performance in health centres (Moiden, 2003). For instance, nurse leaders may challenge other nurses to act by allowing their contributions in decision making and promoting collaboration. This will encourage nurses in their work, and moves the focus of organization’s objectives away from the leaders towards the team as a whole (Jooste, 2004).

Nurse leaders today are challenged to work within myriad of challenges constantly experienced in health care environment (Jooste, 2004). Effective leadership involves ability of nurse leaders to produce extraordinary things while being faced with various challenges. This will ensure continuity in operations and enhance development in health care systems. It may require that nurse leaders move between leading and following frequently depending on circumstances (Hyett, 2003). Good leadership in health care services will meet the needs of patients and handle complaints effectively (Fradd, 2004). Nurses have great influence on the progress of patients while under their care because patient’s participation in health cares activities are mostly nurse-led (Fradd, 2004). In addition, nurses need to be well educated to meet increasing needs in health care systems (Cook, 2001).


Leadership in nursing requires development to achieve efficiency in health care environment (Marshall, 2010). In developing leaders, it is important to analyze and understand the tactical elements in nursing profession. This is one job that requires a lot of sacrifices and self-motivation, and these are among personal attributes needed in nurse leaders (Goleman, 1998). Nurses need to be better equipped with analytical and assertiveness skills because patients have become aware of their own health needs and have knowledge on treatment practices. Leaders should, therefore, incorporate other nurses and everyone in decision making to create an atmosphere of high productivity levels in health care environments (Daly et al., 2004).


Cook, M. (2001). The renaissance of clinical leadership. International nursing review, 48: 38- 46.

Daly, J., et al. (2004). Nursing Leadership. Carlifonia: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Faugier, J., & Woolnough, H. (2002). National nursing leadership programme. Mental Health Practice, 6(3): 28-34.

Goleman, D. (1998). Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Hyett, E. (2003). What blocks health visitors from taking on a leadership role? Journal of Nursing Management, 11: 229-33.

Jooste, K. (2004). Leadership: A new perspective. Journal of Nursing Management, 12: 217- 223.

Mahoney, J. (2001). Leadership skills for the 21st century. Journal of Nursing Management, 9: 269-71.

Marshall, E. (2010). Transformational Leadership in Nursing: From Expert Clinician to Influential Leader.New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Moiden, M. (2002). Evolution of leadership in nursing. Nursing Management, 9: 20-25.

O’Brien, M. (2010). Servant Leadership in Nursing. New York: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.