Impact Lives

The Best Strategies for Nursing Leaders

Nursing leaders are integral to the successful operation of a health care organization. Staff performance and employee and patient satisfaction are just two challenges nurse leaders must address. Using effective motivational strategies enables a nurse leader to tackle those challenges, resulting in a more positive health care environment.

Considerations for Nurse Leadership

Nursing leaders play a pivotal role in directing the operation of a health care organization. They are responsible for inspiring and encouraging their staff to meet the highest standards of performance. One effective way to do this is to employ a transformational leadership style – an approach popularized by writer James MacGregor Burns. This approach creates an environment, he says, where "leaders and followers make each other advance to a higher level of performance, morale and motivation." This approach can help you increase your staff’s productivity as well as its overall job satisfaction. It means leading by example, exhibiting compassion and promoting the same behavior among staff members. Adopting this approach helps humanize the workplace while making you a better nurse leader.

Problems with Communication in a Health Care Organization

Challenges arise in the workplace and not everyone responds well to the same communication style. The following variables, combined with the fast-paced nature of most health care environments, can contribute to communication struggles:

  • Age differences among collaborators
  • Different levels of work experience and professional knowledge
  • Different personalities in the workplace

Fortunately, by earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a concentration in executive leadership, you will be equipped to help staff members overcome these factors. MSN leadership curricula emphasizes building advanced communication, coaching and interpersonal skills, and prepares you to manage issues related to:

  • Workplace diversity
  • Generational variances
  • Collaboration
  • Organizational recruitment
  • Shared leadership
  • Trust and credibility

Earning an MSN in nurse leadership can prepare you to be a leader in terms of professional vision and strategy. You will also learn how to lead teams to focus on shared goals in a health care setting.

Ways Nurse Leaders Can Inspire and Motivate

Several character-based traits stand out as skills that make a good nurse leader:

  • They are passionate and positive.
  • They are sensitive to the needs of patients, peers and staff.
  • They are decisive when taking action.
  • They are supportive of the careers and goals of others.
  • They are solution-oriented.

According to Rose O. Sherman, Ed.D., RN, RAAN, nurse leaders capable of effectively coaching teams have demonstrated “miraculous” outcomes regardless of how challenging the conflict or situation. Sherman believes transformational leadership can have a “multiplying” effect on other employees, leading to an overall enhancement of the intelligence and abilities across an organization.

The goal of nursing leadership is to be a role model for staff and to inspire others. Leaders have a nurturer’s temperament and show genuine concern for staff. Liz Wiseman, writing in the Harvard Business Review, determined leaders who are “multipliers” use 95 percent of their staff’s intellectual abilities; comparatively, leaders who are “diminishers”, or leaders focused on their own professional success and well-being, used just 48 percent of their staff’s talents.

Organizations led by nurses with strong leadership skills boast:

  • Higher employee satisfaction
  • More confident staff members
  • Stronger employee retention rates
  • Better patient outcomes
  • Higher quality of patient care
  • More effective day-to-day processes

Essential Leadership Qualities for a Health Care Setting

Adopting transformational leadership qualities and translating them into success requires you to be a compassionate leader, an effective communicator and an encouraging collaborator who fosters a culture of openness in the workplace. The following five rise to the top of the list in terms of boosting employee morale and getting the most out of staff members:

  1. Reward Good Performance: Rewarding good performance in the workplace lets your employees know they are valued. Rewards communicate that you recognize their effort and commitment and it can bolster employee morale and improve subsequent workplace performance.
  2. Address Workplace Problems: Sometimes it is necessary to take an assertive stance in order to address issues that may be uncomfortable but still require attention. Pulling an employee to the side in order to work out a problem is an effective way to proactively address an issue while also demonstrating respect towards their privacy in the workplace.
  3. Highlight Individual Strengths: Take the time to get to know staff, whether it is during the workday or over a long lunch. This enables you to evaluate each individual’s strengths, weaknesses and aspirations. This knowledge can help you ensure that each staff member’s talents are being used to their fullest. When employees feel engaged, their skills and overall performance and job satisfaction are enhanced.
  4. Promote Multi-Level Communication: Encourage a culture of transparency within your organization by having members of various departments interact with one another whenever possible. This kind of communication encourages trust and creates a culture of respect.
  5. Humanize the Workplace: Always remember that employees and patients are people first. Rather than treating your interactions as “patient and provider” or “employee and boss,” try instead to remember you are interacting with people. This shift in perspective enables you to build trust and respect amongst your staff and patients, which will contribute to higher levels of satisfaction for all concerned.

Implementing these strategies can help mitigate many challenges that arise in the workplace. It will put you in a better position to manage issues related to personality differences, age and experience. By Treating employees and patients as individuals will result in a happier and healthier environment – one with stronger employee retention and more positive patient outcomes.

Visit us at and learn more about out online Master of Science in Nursing program designed for nurses seeking administrative positions.

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