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8 Leadership Skills Nurses Need to Be Successful

 |  5 Min Read

Utica University is a leader in producing outstanding nurses who impact the profession through their confidence, strong leadership, critical thinking skills, and overall industry knowledge.

As well as being compassionate, patient, and caring, a nurse needs to demonstrate leadership skills from the start of their career. Today’s healthcare environment is in a state of flux, which makes planning ahead difficult. However, the right leadership qualities can help you respond to the many challenges and opportunities you will face. With the right skills and knowledge, you can take your career to the next level. Here is a list of qualities to help you get the most from your profession.

  1. A global perspective or mindset
    Understanding and embracing cultural diversity is a critical skill needed when working in any community. In healthcare, a global perspective will help nurse leaders respond effectively to worldwide healthcare trends and adapt them to their work on a national, regional, and local level. By working together and sharing technologies, strategies, and successes worldwide, we can address global healthcare issues.
  2. A working knowledge of technology
    To operate an efficient healthcare service, you need to support it with the right technology. Electronic health records (EHR), clinical decision support (CDS), and biometrics support daily processes and interactions in healthcare and impact the collection and use of healthcare data. These technologies have rapidly become common in all medical facilities, so arming yourself with the appropriate technical knowledge now positions you in good stead for future advancement.
  3. Expert decision-making skills
    A key quality in any leader or manager is decision-making skills. While culture, education, autonomy, and research are key factors that impact decision-making in the medical field, the most effective decisions are typically made by nursing leaders who consider each patient’s unique health needs1. These considerations are part of the natural decision-making process, which involves awareness of diverse medical situations and can be utilized by all nursing leaders to produce effective patient outcomes2.
  4. Prioritizing quality and safety
    While studies suggest successful patient outcomes and health safety have been steadily improving in U.S. healthcare since 2000, people of color and people financially struggling are experiencing slower improvements than other demographics. By integrating innovative approaches to quality and safety for all patients, nurse leaders can significantly impact the overall quality of patient care and safety3.
  5. Being politically astute
    Politics surround us and is a part of every organization, and healthcare is no different. Nurse leaders need to identify the finer details of relationships, communication, and informal power structures at work. By accurately interpreting these different social situations, they can act appropriately in sensitive situations.
  6. Interprofessional practice and team building skills
    Good leadership is about creating good working relationships, identifying a common purpose with colleagues, and effective collaboration. When it comes to successful collaboration in a medical environment, trust plays a major role4. Nurse leaders must be trusted by their fellow professionals and their patients to establish the foundation for effective patient care and outcomes.
  7. Balancing authenticity and performance expectations
    A true leader is someone who remains true to themselves and their values. Authenticity in leadership is something that today’s organizations need if they are to succeed. In a healthcare system increasingly focused on reaching targets and meeting budgets, nurse leaders are likely to face moral dilemmas. Meeting stakeholders’ ever-changing expectations and priorities is hard, but nurses can place the patient first by being authentic leaders.
  8. Coping effectively with change
    Being visionary and proactive when faced with a healthcare system defined by rapid change is perhaps the most important of all the qualities listed. The healthcare system has experienced a number of changes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a growing preference for virtual and telemedicine services. Nurse leaders can adapt to this change by responding to the specific needs of patients while maintaining a focus on their safety and wellness5.

Develop desired leadership skills with Utica University’s online RN-BS Nursing (RN-BSN) degree

Leading healthcare organizations strive for magnet status and require nurses to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. These organizations recognize that increasing the formal education requirements of their nursing staff has a positive impact on their leadership, critical thinking, and decision-making skills in caring for patients.

Registered nurses can hone their leadership skills with a bachelor’s degree from Utica University.

Utica’s online RN-BS in Nursing program is designed to teach leadership skills directly applied in any healthcare setting. Its industry-leading online nursing curriculum and teaching methods incorporate patient-centered teaching, career-focused skills, and knowledge, as well as evidence-based practice, to ensure that graduates find meaning and fulfillment in their careers.

Accredited by the New York State Department and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the RN-BS Nursing program at Utica University assures you that your degree is relevant, recognized, and respected.

For more information, call Utica University at: (315) 732-2640 or toll-free at (866) 295-3106 to speak with an admissions advisor.


Adapted from: Huston C. (2008) Preparing nurse leaders for 2020. Journal of Nursing Management 16, 905 911 [WWW document].
URL [accessed on 10 June 2014].

  1. Nibbelink C. and Brewer B. (2018) Decision-Making in Nursing Practice: An Integrative Literature Review. National Center for Biotechnology Information. [WWW document]. URL [accessed 28 October 2021].
  2. Nibbelink C. and Reed P. (2019) Deriving the Practice-Primed Decision Model from a Naturalistic Decision-Making Perspective for Acute Care Nursing Research. National Center for Biotechnology Information. [WWW document]. URL [accessed 28 October 2021].
  3. Brady J. (2018) A Fresh Look at the Data Shows Patient Safety Improving Overall, With Improvement Still Needed in Many Areas. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. [WWW document]. URL [accessed 28 October 2021].
  4. Goman C. (2017) Six Crucial Behaviors of Collaborative Leaders. Forbes. [WWW document]. URL [accessed 28 October 2021].
  5. Schumann J. (2021) How Health Care In The U.S. May Change After COVID: An Optimist’s Outlook. NPR. [WWW document]. URL [accessed 28 October 2021].

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