Nursing leadership roles have become more prevalent in recent years, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic as the government worked to tackle the shortage of healthcare workers. On a ward, the job can involve managing finances, supporting colleagues and meeting targets set by facility managers. Nursing leaders also ensure that the medical team delivers a high standard of care by coordinating treatment plans, monitoring patients’ health, and liaising across an interprofessional healthcare team. They foster a positive, caring culture on the ward, acting as a role model for less experienced nurses and an advocate for patients. Therefore, they remain visible on the ward. This ensures that both patients and members of staff can seek advice or assistance as needed.
Training for a senior position
Excellent leadership is vital to the success of medical facilities, large or small. With the DNP in leadership at Baylor University, working nurses can perfect their leadership skills while remaining in their current roles. The course is delivered 100% online and no clinical placements are necessary. Graduates leave with the ability to manage a busy ward or unit by nurturing, inspiring and directing their team. As the healthcare system is transformed by an ever-increasing demand for practitioners, the following six skills in particular will be in very high demand.
- Communicating effectively with everyone on the team
Effective communication is about more than getting your point across. In healthcare, nurse leaders have to collaborate with other professionals at all levels. To get the best results from each interaction, they use a range of communication skills. They will use respectful and appropriate language to support other nurses, while also keeping their verbal interactions calm and measured. Non-verbal communication skills are almost as important, so nurse leaders must remain aware of the motions and body language they use to stay in control of the cues they are presenting to others. In order to build a rapport with their colleagues, they will demonstrate a willingness to listen actively, and show compassion for nurses who are stressed or in need of guidance. These skills foster a positive environment in the ward, happier nurses, and more effective care for patients.
- Guiding a team through periods of change
Adapting to new ways of working is part of life for anyone in the healthcare industry. For nurse leaders, the challenge is not simply about learning to manage change on a personal level – they also have to get their team to embrace new initiatives. In part, this is achieved through a show of empathy, as people are often apprehensive about change. However, nurse leaders will also explain what is going to change, what will be accomplished, and what will remain the same. If people are concerned, the nurse leader will share the benefits of the proposed change and show the team members why they should feel invested in the process. Through this form of encouragement, people should start to feel engaged and, eventually, empowered. As adaptable systems such as healthcare need an adaptable workforce, this skill is key to nursing leadership.
- Being socially aware
Social awareness is a soft skill that is vital for nurse leaders on a busy ward, but it is also one of the more complex competencies. To remain socially aware, nurse leaders need to foster understanding and empathy for other social groups, genders, cultures, and races. This empathy enables them to provide in-depth tailored care that is adapted to each individual’s unique circumstances and needs. From communication and listening skills to compassion and a non-judgmental attitude, socially aware leadership promotes inclusivity and better health outcomes for all patients.
- Confident decision-making
From deciding on the policies that a ward should work with, to choosing how patient records are maintained, the day of a nurse leader is filled with decisions. Furthermore, junior nurses will often look to their more senior colleagues for advice, so the ability to make choices and remain organized is crucial. However, to foster a climate of respect and accountability, nurse leaders will often practice shared decision-making. Instead of keeping tight control and making all the decisions autonomously, they direct their team and facilitate the making of group decisions. This allows nurses to discuss their concerns openly, and as a result, problems are less likely to escalate, and patient safety is maintained.
- Nurturing positive relationships at work
A huge number of individuals, from diverse backgrounds, ethnic groups, religions and genders, work together in nursing jobs. Nurse leaders have to manage the relationships that these people have with one another, as the ability to collaborate and work in a team is required for the delivery of effective patient care. To ensure that everyone on the ward knows what is expected of them in terms of being respectful, polite, and cognizant of difference, nurse leaders will use their written and oral communication skills. Furthermore, so that the team can speak openly and solve problems together without a manager present, nurse leaders encourage their staff to develop their own communication skills.
- Tackling conflict
The healthcare sector, like any other, has its share of conflicts among staff, and this issue falls under managing relationships. The important thing for a nurse leader is to deal with problems and reach a lasting resolution. In part, this provides the basis for excellent teamwork, increased productivity, and a healthy workplace culture. However, this skill is also important when it comes to diagnosing a condition, designing care plans and ensuring that patients receive high-quality care.
Moving into a leadership position
Any nurse who has the commitment and passion to continue their learning could excel in a leadership role. They must lead their team and encourage them to develop ever more accomplished clinical competencies, as well as leadership skills of their own. However, their key focus is always on maintaining excellence in the provision of care and keeping their patients safe. By creating a professional, compassionate, and efficient workplace culture, nurse leaders can be seen as advocates not just for their patients, but also for their colleagues and the profession as a whole.