Leadership and the Graduate Nursing Role

In order to provide the best patient care in the increasingly complex healthcare settings, today’s nurses are expected to possess the attributes of leadership and be aware of leadership practices related to their field. It is true for nurses in administrative positions, but it is also true for nurses who are at the beginning of their careers since they also have to guide students and healthcare assistants.

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I believe that being a successful leader does not mean having deep knowledge of every possible aspect of work. It does mean, however, being able to gather input from your team in order to make an intelligent decision. This leadership style is called democratic or participative, and it is the way I prefer to work as a leader according to the quiz at psychology.about.com. I do believe that I am a supporter of a participative leadership style since I would never make a decision on behalf of a team without their input.

I think that the leader is the one in a position to make the final decision; however, this decision should be based upon the leader’s expertise alone. It does not mean the input from the group will always be valuable. Nevertheless, it is important for every team member to have a say in order for them to feel valued and motivate them to do better at their job. Studies show that those leaders who adopt a democratic or participative leadership style are more successful in their roles than other leaders (Ogbonna & Harris, 2000, p. 767).

There are certain attributes of leadership that if applied effectively will help a nurse be a better leader. Leaders are often described as authoritative, passionate, and having a certain vision of how things should be done. These qualities are connected with their role, and for graduate-level nurses, the role involves making intelligent decisions and delegating tasks appropriately. This role means that a nurse should be seen as an authoritative figure, in tune with the members of their team, using their input to resolve conflict or find a solution to the problem.

Those nurses who are admired are described as a driving force, a role model that inspires future nurse leaders (Frankel, 2008). Graduate-level nurses should not be discouraged when they make a mistake, but see it as a valuable lesson as to what needs to be improved. For graduate-level nurses to motivate other members of the team it is essential to gather feedback and effectively apply problem-solving skills to overcome obstacles and direct the team towards a clear goal. Today’s nurses play an important role in legislative processes, too, affecting policies and regulations, and providing feedback on current issues to politicians.

This fact requires nurses to possess networking and communication skills in order to share their expertise and obtain support. In recent years, several major laws affecting the practice of public health were enacted, and effective nurse leaders should be able to reshape the thinking of their team and highlight the importance of policy changes.

“Important qualities of effective nursing leaders include being an advocate for quality care, collaborator, articulate communicator, mentor, risk-taker, role model, and visionary.” (Carter et al., 2010, p. 168). With these qualities, nurses on all levels will contribute to the successful development of other health care professionals and ensure the application of the best professional standards.

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When it comes to my strengths and weaknesses as a leader, I think the biggest strength is my ability to hear and be heard. I believe in the value of communication and feedback, and I am a very supportive and respecting person, which would help with mentorship and coaching. I like to provide emotional support, and this will help me motivate team members and empower them by increasing their self-esteem and confidence. I have the communication skills, and I can make people see things in a different light.

Nonetheless, I feel that I need to develop some attributes in my graduate nursing role. This includes being more confident, improving my decision-making skills, and developing my authoritative voice. Depending on the situation, it might be beneficial to take control of the group and dictate what is to be done. For example, sometimes the leader is the most knowledgeable member of the team, and if a swift decision is required by the circumstances, the leader must be seen authoritative enough to take control of the situation. I should develop my self-belief and be prepared to stand up for the decisions I make.

Nursing leaders are the driving force behind the continuous process of improving the quality of health care services. It is important that nurses on all levels, from graduate-level nurses to advanced practice nurses to apply their expertise to inspire other health care professionals to deliver superior performance. In order to do that, nurses should be aware of the leadership practices and improve their leadership attributes. “The integration of advanced practice nurses (APNs) into healthcare systems has relied heavily on nursing leaders at the national, provincial, regional, and local organizational levels.” (Carter et al., 2010, p. 169).


Carter, N., Martin-Misener, R., Kilpatrick K., Kaasalainen, S., Donald, F., Bryant-Lukosius, D.,… & DiCenso, A. (2010). The Role of Nursing Leadership in Integrating Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioners in Healthcare Delivery in Canada. Nursing Leadership, 23, 167-185. doi:10.12927/cjnl.2010.22274

Frankel, A. (2008). What leadership styles should senior nurses develop? Nursing Times, 104(35), 23-24.

Ogbonna, E. & Harris, L. (2000). Leadership style, organizational culture and performance: empirical evidence from UK companies. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 11(4), 766-788.

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