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Being a nurse is no easy feat. In addition to dealing with medical procedures, you also interact with many different kinds of patients. Even if you have several years of experience, stress and anxiety are bound to pop up. That's why a leader is critical to ensure that an organization doesn't emotionally and mentally break themselves.

However, with nursing being as strenuous as it is, will leadership add to your already stressful workload? The truth is, a nurse's core leadership values were established the moment they become an RN. This is because nurses are, in fact, managers in their field.

While there are several different styles of leadership, these core skills will make you an efficient and reliable nurse leader.

RELATED: Nurse Leader vs. Clinical Nurse Leader

1. Human Capital Management

Experienced nurses know that everyone brings their own unique set of skills or talents to the field. By being great at what you do, you ultimately become an asset to an organization. An excellent nurse leader can bring out the best in a team by encouraging them to hone their skill set, which in turn will make them valuable contributors to the organization. This is why human capital management is essential.

As a leader, it is important to retain highly skilled nurses and continuously encourage and motivate them. Aim to be more engaged and ensure that productivity and happiness are continuing to increase. So, how do you improve employee retention?

As mentioned, clear communication of required tasks should be delivered to nurses in a timely manner. By allowing them to express their own concerns, you demonstrate empathy to your workforce. Knowing where their strengths lie will allow your team to work better.

2. Leveraging Diversity

Healthcare is often considered to be the most diverse field of work, and that's due to the growing demand for nurses, physicians, and midwives around the world. With endless shortages of nurses and other healthcare professionals, medical institutions welcome staff with the right skills from any country — as long as they can speak the language in the area they are stationed in. This makes it particularly important to acknowledge all nurse's skills and gain awareness of your team's different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and origins.

So, what are the common issues in a diverse workplace? Cultural conflicts, generational gaps, and communication barriers are the most common challenges. As a leader, you play a significant role in these situations. In these cases, you need to perform a cultural assessment. This is a great way to help nurses come to an agreement and improve their cultural understanding. This strategy helps train nurses to be more open-minded and self-aware of their actions towards other colleagues to ultimately prevent racism, misunderstandings, and personal conflicts among the group.

3. Conflict Management

Every organization experiences conflicts, and both internal and external situations can affect productivity. When conflicts arise, it is the responsibility of the nurse leader to find potential solutions and turn a negative conflict into a positive one.

However, handling this situation isn't easy, and it's important to maintain concise communication with your nursing staff. You also need to be highly perceptive to determine the best solution for every conflict that emerges. When handled effectively, the problem will resolve and the team's morale and work quality will simultaneously rise.

Nursing leaders are expected to face these conflicts, and if issues are ignored, this often leads to dysfunctionality across the team. To avoid this, you must learn how to deal with people exposed to stressful environments and use your authority to end the conflict with well-grounded solutions.

4. Public Service Motivation

Nurses are miracle workers who often work long hours due to staff shortages. So how do we encourage these self-sufficient nurses to stick around without allowing them to succumb to burnout?

Public service motivation is the concept of acting in a particular way that is beyond self-interest. It's motive primarily concerns the interest of a larger group.

At the moment you accept your job as a leader, your organization knows to listen to you and you serve as a pillar of support. That's why it's important to be a motivator with an innovative mindset.

Here are some ways to put this into practice:

  • Urge your nursing team to act with an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities for growth in the field
  • Give positive feedback and allow them to embrace constructive criticism to prepare for any obstructions along the way
  • Be a role model and work to positively influence their productivity

5. Developing Others

You have now learned to acknowledge the diversity of your nursing team, can effectively handle conflicts, and utilize the strengths of your nurse members.

However, there's one thing you can do to stand out from other managers, and that's developing your staff nurses to be just like you. Earlier, you read about serving as the role model for your team, and one reason for this is to train your nurses to be future leaders as well. In fact, all nurses must act like leaders throughout the ongoing transformation of the healthcare system. In addition, your nursing team needs leadership skills to work as full team members to physicians and other healthcare professionals. It involves responsibilities such as identifying problems in the workplace and performing adjustments to achieve established goals.

Are you a nurse manager or about to become one? Aim to apply these five leadership core competencies and serve as an inspiration to your organization!

Karen Cas-Alinas
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