Leadership and Management in Nursing


Leadership and management in nursing are areas of healthcare that necessitate a high level of knowledge and expertise. Although these and other qualities are shared by nursing leadership and management, the two roles differ in several ways. Differences between a nursing leader and a nurse manager include the responsibilities they take on, the credentials they hold, and the tasks they perform. In this article, we define nursing leadership and management roles, explain the significant difference between leadership and management in nursing, and discuss the characteristics of successful nursing leaders and managers.

What do leadership and management in nursing entail?

The roles of nursing professionals who direct nursing staff, oversee the organizational structure of medical processes, and lead nursing teams in providing patient care are referred to as leadership management and teamwork in nursing. While many nurses take on informal leadership roles throughout their careers, nurse leaders and managers differ in several ways.

Nursing administration

Nursing leadership is the practice of directing initiatives aimed at improving nursing practices and outcomes. Nurse leaders rely on their ability to inspire and motivate nursing teams and staff to develop high-quality practices and patient care methodologies. These professionals typically hold higher-level nursing and leadership positions and have a less hands-on approach to nursing than nursing managers.

A nurse leader, for example, will focus on strategic planning and collaborating with the nursing staff. In contrast, a nurse manager will focus on carrying out the initiative and managing nursing teams and departments in implementing care strategies with patients.

Process of nursing administration

The process of directing teams and nursing departments to maintain best practices and organization when providing patient care is known as nurse management. Nurse managers direct the daily processes and routines of the medical facility in which they work, and they train nursing staff through hands-on methods to ensure the efficacy of patient care and treatment plans.

Nurse managers oversee their teams’ hiring, staffing, and performance evaluations. Nursing management positions require leadership skills, but nurse managers continue to work directly with patients and nursing teams to implement incentives introduced by nursing leaders.

Nurse managers vs. nurse leaders

The leadership roles and management functions distinguish nurse leaders and nurse managers in nursing. They perform on the job, their roles in their organizations, their credentials, and their educational background already completed. The following career elements best illustrate the differences between nurse leaders and nurse managers:

  • Tasks
  • Roles
  • Education
  • Credentials

1.     Tasks

Nurse leaders and nurse managers have different tasks and responsibilities. Nurse leaders, for example, establish practice standards and policies, initiate transformation and change in the medical setting, and influence nursing teams and staff. Nurse leaders ultimately work to achieve an organization’s vision, mission, and long-term goals.

Nurse managers frequently interact with patients and work to direct and instruct their teams and departments. Many nurse managers are in charge of directing and performing patient procedures, treatment, and record-keeping.

2.     Roles

Depending on their specialties and qualifications, nurse leaders and managers take on various roles throughout their careers. Nurse leaders provide leadership throughout a medical organization by leading department and facility changes, developing innovative methods to provide better patient care, and pioneering how their organizations achieve objectives and align with core values.

A nurse manager may assume leadership roles throughout their career, but their primary role within a medical organization is to direct patient care processes, treatment plans, procedures, and nursing practices. The nurse manager primarily supervises nursing teams and critical nursing processes such as reporting and documentation.

3.     Education

Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: theory and application may have different educational backgrounds. A nursing leadership role, such as a clinical nurse leader (CNL), may necessitate different educational preparation than a nurse management role, such as a patient care director. During college, they will frequently study various subjects, disciplines, and majors.

4.     Credentials

While nursing leadership and management roles necessitate nursing certification and credentials, nursing leadership roles are frequently defined by the Certification in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) credential. In contrast, nurse managers are frequently required to hold the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) credential.

The Certification in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) credential, for example, enables nursing leaders to work in executive and administrative roles within a healthcare organization. A Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) will, on the other hand, work closely with nursing staff to organize and supervise patient care and treatment, directly influencing and managing outcomes.

What characteristics are required for nursing leadership and management?

Although leadership and management in nursing differ in some ways, they share several skill sets in common, including:

  • Leadership abilities
  • Teamwork abilities
  • Technical abilities
  • Communication abilities
  • Emotional Intelligence

a.     Leadership abilities

Leadership skills are required for both nursing leadership and management. Nurses who take on supervisory roles to direct their teams and maintain organizational structure in their practices demonstrate leadership abilities that will help them advance in their careers. Examples of how leaders and managers in nursing apply their leadership skills include the ability to motivate team members, improve nursing practices, and develop effective treatment plans.

b.     Teamwork skills

In their careers, nurse leaders and nurse managers collaborate with various healthcare professionals. As a result, both positions rely on collaborating with coworkers, providing and receiving feedback, and sharing ideas with staff and supervisors. Teamwork skills are essential in these professions to navigate company culture and foster healthy relationships with colleagues.

c.      Technical skills

Technical skills such as computer and database literacy are required for nursing leadership or management positions. Nurses in leadership positions frequently use company databases and reporting software programs to document, sort, and organize critical medical information. Because some administrative and executive nursing roles (such as clinical informatics management) necessitate nurses working with this type of technology regularly, technical skills in leadership and management in nursing can be highly beneficial in these career fields.

d.     Communication skills

Nurses are excellent communicators. They interact with patients and healthcare professionals daily and rely on practical communication skills to succeed. As a result, nursing leaders and managers must be proficient in written communication, verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as the ability to connect with others and build relationships.

e.      Emotional intelligence

Nurses in leadership positions rely on leadership and management theories in nursing. Several essential skills that nursing leaders and nurse managers should be able to demonstrate with their emotional intelligence include the ability to care for patients, empathize with others’ feelings and ideas, and seek understanding in their work interactions.

Common Nursing Leadership Styles

1.     Autocratic

Autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting or consulting their employees. These hands-on leaders are quick thinkers who excel at delegating tasks and providing instructions.

Strengths: In an emergency, autocratic nurse leaders are influential. It is also helpful in enforcing legal policies and medical procedures that protect the health and safety of patients.

Weaknesses: Because this leadership style is associated with negative reinforcement, these leaders are less effective at developing trust, building team camaraderie, and having open communication.

Autocratic nurse leaders should maintain open lines of communication with their staff and be aware of their staff’s strengths and capabilities. They should not be condescending when team members express their opinions, concerns, and ideas.

2.     Laissez-faire

Laissez-faire leaders provide little supervision and take a “hands-off” approach. While they encourage creativity and ingenuity, they rarely provide guidance or direction. This type of leadership style is common among new or inexperienced nurse leaders.

Strengths: Because there is no micromanagement, highly experienced or self-directed nurse teams can thrive under this leadership style. Laissez-faire leaders thrive in-home healthcare and hospice settings, where nurses are self-assured and capable of working independently.

Weaknesses: The laissez-faire manager encourages employees to set their own goals and solve any problems. New or inexperienced nurses, who require more guidance or hand-holding, do not fare well with laissez-faire nurse leaders.

Leaders who practice laissez-faire should ensure that their employees practice safe and competent nursing.

3.     Democratic leader

A democratic leader encourages team members to provide feedback, participate, and communicate. Their approach is collaborative. They promote personal and professional development while focusing on team success.

Strengths: Their approach is effective in improving quality and processes. This nursing leadership style is effective in roles such as quality assurance and performance improvement, as well as diversity and inclusion.

Weaknesses: When a quick response is required in an emergency medical situation, such as when a patient codes, these leaders may struggle to make quick, independent decisions. Democratic leaders must exercise caution to retain decision-making authority.

Nurses who enjoy receiving detailed feedback and want to advance professionally and actively participate in decision-making and change work well with democratic leaders.

4.     Servant

Servant leaders are relationship-oriented and prioritize the needs of others. These leaders ensure that employees have the necessary skills, tools, and resources to achieve their objectives. They are very interested in employee development.

Strengths: Nurses who enjoy working with diverse teams and environments will thrive under the direction of servant leaders. Because servant leaders are patient and empathetic, new nurses thrive under them. Servant leaders excel in roles such as nurse educator, staff development, and clinical leadership.

Weaknesses: Servant leaders prioritize the well-being of their teams over their own needs or goals, but they must also keep the facility’s or organization’s strategic objectives in mind.

Servant nurse leaders are excellent listeners who value empathy. They foster trust and team development.

Though Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term “Servant Leadership” in 1970, the concept has existed for much longer. Many people associate Florence Nightingale with the servant leadership philosophy because she worked for “the greater good” and prioritized empathy and awareness.

5.     Situational

Healthcare is constantly evolving. Situational leaders excel in healthcare because they are adaptable and can change their leadership style to meet the needs of an organization or an individual nurse. These nurse leaders assess the situation and decide on the best action. Situational leaders are among the most versatile nursing leadership styles.

Strengths: Situational leaders work well with nursing students in clinical settings.

Weaknesses: Situational leaders often divert from an organization’s long-term strategies or goals.

Situational leaders have the freedom to change their management style at any time. They perform well in a fluid environment.

6.     Transactional

Transactional leaders use a reward and punishment system. They focus on:

  • Supervision
  • Organization
  • Performance

Efficiency is prioritized over building morale. Highly bureaucratic healthcare organizations have traditionally utilized transactional leadership strategies to meet short-term goals.

Strengths: Transactional leaders are good at problem-solving. Their leadership style may result in fewer errors and a more evidence-based approach to care. It is a task-oriented style best suited for clarifying roles and responsibilities and working under pressure and in emergencies.

Weaknesses: Transactional leaders pay more attention to mistakes made by staff rather than encouraging a teaching or inspirational environment.

The relationship between these managers and their nurses depends entirely on how the transitions go. Employees must be motivated through incentives and discipline. These leaders thrive in environments where tasks must be completed in a specific order. Transactional leaders are only concerned with the present. They are unconcerned about the organization’s future performance.

Importance of leadership and management in nursing,

·         Integrity

Making the right decisions for patients and team members requires integrity. Your leader should teach empathy and ethical practices. Leaders with integrity frequently demonstrate compassion and do not prioritize profits over people. They value you as an individual as well as an essential member of the team.

·         Critical thinking

Nursing requires critical thinking skills. Leaders must think quickly and clearly explain their reasoning. When deciding between nursing leadership styles, critical thinking is essential.

·         Communication

A good nurse leader can communicate and actively listen. They promote open communication and do not discourage you from voicing your concerns or ideas. The healthcare system relies heavily on communication and collaboration. Nurse leaders must encourage patients, nurses, and staff to communicate with one another.

·        Professionalism

Leaders should always maintain a professional demeanor, and other team members should do the same.


To be a great leader and recognize effective leadership, be willing to adapt and change your strategy for your patients, colleagues, organization, and self. Make those decisions using critical thinking, and never stop growing as a nurse. Effective leadership and management in nursing are essential in the nursing career.



Open chat
You can now contact our live agent via Whatsapp! via +1 408 800-3377

Get plagiarism-free custom-written paper ready for submission to your Blackboard.

Enjoy crazy discounts by chatting with our live support team.