5 qualities in a successful nurse manager

By | 2022-02-23T17:30:45-05:00 September 5th, 2013|2 Comments

If you had to describe the perfect nurse manager, what qualities would he or she have? Scrubbed In weighed in on what we think are  5 of the most important characteristics of a successful nurse manager.

1. They have one foot in the clinical world

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges nurse managers face is the bridging of fiscal and clinical responsibilities. With so many demands today on tightening budgets and consolidating resources, it’s easy to lose footing in the day-to-day realities on the unit. Skilled nurse managers are able to balance business decisions with clinical needs. Not an easy job to accomplish!

2. They make smart strategic decisions

As a bedside nurse, it can be hard to appreciate this skill because it’s not necessarily visible. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable. Successful managers need to balance short-term needs with long-term goals. Often these are the decisions that happen behind the scenes. And the long-term success of the unit depends on it.

3. They value working relationships

Effective managers know that developing and maintaining healthy work relationships is key to their success and the success of the unit. These managers practice shared governance and listen openly to input from staff. They address conflicts as they arise, directly and honestly. They support collaboration, both nurse-to-nurse and multidisciplinary. And they recognize that a healthy work environment yields better patient outcomes and a happier and more fulfilled nursing staff.

4. They lead with integrity

Those that lead with integrity uphold their own professional accountability. They ask of themselves, “What role am I playing in this situation?” They identify their values and then use those values as a compass to stay on course. And they’re honest. Leading with integrity doesn’t always mean doing what your staff wants you to do. But it does mean being a straight shooter when it comes to explaining the rationale behind a decision.

5. They don’t bully (or tolerate bullying)

Nurse managers who rule with fear or with passive-aggression cannot be successful in the long-term. Nurses who don’t feel supported have decreased job satisfaction and a higher likelihood of leaving their job (or the profession!). Great nurse managers use their power to set the bar high, to challenge employees to perform at their best, to coach and to mentor. They don’t abuse that power, and they have zero tolerance for abuse in the workplace on any level.

Do you have a nurse manager who embodies these leadership qualities? What would you add to our list?


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  1. Avatar
    Thelma Richards January 26, 2017 at 2:47 am - Reply

    I am preparing for a nurse manager’s post and found these 5 points quite helpful.

  2. Avatar
    Annette Semo May 7, 2017 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Currently studying Management in Nursing.
    Useful information.
    Thank you.

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