5 Top Qualities of a Great Executive Nurse Leader

What does it take to be a great executive nurse leader? We break down the five qualities that exceptional nurse leadership requires.

1. Be a People Person

Being a great leader always requires exceptional people skills. Rarely is this truer than in nurse leadership. In the hospital environment, nurses constantly juggle a wide range of relationships: patients and their loved ones, fellow nursing staff, physicians, and social support services. Running a team means leading by example and being able to advocate, negotiate and empathize, frequently in emotionally charged and complex situations.

Teddy Roosevelt said: “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program will help you develop and deepen your understanding of the psychology of people management in the workplace.

2. Be an Independent Thinker

The healthcare landscape is ever-changing. As a result, great leaders must be nimble and agile in their thinking, possess the ability to make independent decisions, question the status quo and adapt quickly to change. The more widely you study and the more experience you gain in critical thinking, the greater your confidence will be to make intelligent, informed decisions.

As Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science, once observed: “In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”

3. Be an Agent of Change

The modern healthcare business model is also rapidly changing. Therefore, successful nurse leadership requires the ability to develop, manage, execute and communicate plans – all while navigating changes to the environments in which nurses operate. These changes can be especially challenging when management tries to align various industry interests to better serve patients under new business models.

As President John F. Kennedy suggested: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” A good leader is able to manage change while keeping an eye on the big picture of the greatest good for all.

4. Be Inspirational

Given the constantly changing nursing and healthcare environment, a great leader needs to motivate, inspire, and empower others. This requires communicating big-picture plans to your team and then identifying specific and measurable goals that keep everyone moving in the same direction.

Communication is key, as is the ability to inspire others to succeed and work together to achieve mutual goals. Bill Gates agrees: “As we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

5. Be Focused and Organized

The nursing leaders of tomorrow must be able to manage lean organizations that are efficient without sacrificing quality care. This requires a great deal of focus on both daily and long-term decisions at the management level. You will need to create detailed, actionable plans for your team, as well as communicate to your staff why the details are important to the big picture. Otherwise they may wonder why they are even doing it.

As leadership expert John C. Maxwell put it: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”

Find out how Loyola University New Orleans’ Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program can help you develop your professional qualities and expertise to become a great leader.