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Are you ready to take on a leadership or management role?

After learning the ropes for a few years as a nurse and earning your advanced degree, you may find yourself getting promoted or taking on new responsibilities. These shifting roles may mean you do less work with patients than you used to, but that responsibility will be replaced with managing the other nurses and keeping an eye on the big picture.

No matter where you are in your career, you should not only be celebrating your existing leadership skills but also identifying areas you can improve. Across the country, many nurses are starting and leading initiatives to increase access to care and improve outcomes by focusing on primary care, prevention, wellness and chronic disease management. To claim a top spot within your organization and among these inspiring leaders, start by focusing on these 5 important leadership qualities to create a foundation on which your leadership potential can flourish.

1. Strong communication

Effective communication skills serve you well in every rung of the nurse ladder, but it's particularly important in leadership roles. When you deal with many nurses, doctors, and other healthcare staff members on a daily basis, you need to be capable of communicating your strategies, needs and instructions in a clear and easily understandable fashion.

2. Delegation

As a leader, you’ll need to know your team members in and out—and be able to trust them, because you can’t realistically expect to do everything on your own. Each person has strengths, weaknesses, and specialties. By delegating tasks based on your knowledge of these individuals, you can help others to be more efficient. Making wise choices as you delegate can improve the overall quality of care that patients receive and keep your team happy by encourage them to utilize their strongest skills.

3. Business-mindedness

You can be an amazing nurse, but, if you aren't business minded, the administrative side of management is going to overwhelm you quickly. Managers have budgets, scheduling, inventory management, and other tasks that require expert attention every day. If you can't keep up with the business side of things, your department isn't going to run as smoothly as it needs to.

4. Empathy

You developed empathy for your patients when you started out. Now, you need to apply that empathy to your fellow nurses when you communicate with them. You've been in their shoes before, so you know the stress and pressure of the job they perform. Let this understanding guide the way you communicate when someone comes to you with an issue.

5. Conflict resolution

Once you've identified a problem, proper conflict resolution is required. You need to be comfortable with confrontation so you derail problems before they get out of hand. When you know how to deal with conflicts and provide constructive criticism to nurses while still maintaining your respect for them, you can develop a strong team that is working at its most effective level.

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