There is an increasing demand for new nurse leaders because of a growing number of retiring nurses and a complex health care delivery system. This high demand for nurse leaders brings an opportunity for young nurses to move up to a leadership role; however, the transition from staff nurse to nurse leader involves developing a wide range of skills. Here are four essential skills that every nurse needs to ensure a smooth transition into a leadership role.

1. Effective communication

It is important that you improve your communication, both verbal and non-verbal, as well as your listening skills. A great nurse leader needs to clearly communicate his or her ideas, visions, goals, and expectations to staff nurses and others as well as understand what other people are communicating.

2. Critical thinking

A great nurse leader needs to be able to think objectively and critically as well as utilize critical thinking ability at every level. Critical thinking is utmost to a leader’s success, especially in today’s complex health care environment. Having an optimistic attitude is also important as this will help to motivate other staff nurses in a positive way.

3. Time management

A great nurse leader needs to effectively manage time and fulfill his or her tasks and obligations. As a nurse leader, you cannot avoid the added responsibilities and demands, but without time management skills, it will be difficult to transition into your leadership role.

4. Conflict management

 A great nurse leader needs to properly manage conflicts in the workplace. You should have the ability to recognize and address problems quickly. Stress disappears, staff feels more motivated, and the workplace becomes a much better place to work as a result of conflict management.

To become a great nurse leader, continually strive to improve these four essential skills and never stop learning.

Nuananong Seal & Mary Wiske

Nuananong Seal, PhD, RN, is a nurse researcher and a consultant for health promotion and health prevention research.

Mary Wiske, RN, is a retired community health nurse.

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