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All Nurses Are Leaders

All Nurses Are Leaders

Laura Wisniewski, RN. BS, CIC

Do you consider yourself to be a leader? The definitions of the words leader and manager are often confused. Traditional managers have assigned roles and titles within an organization, as they carry out specific functions, duties and responsibilities. Managers exert control over decision making and obtaining results as they direct both the willing and unwilling.

In contrast, leaders do not necessarily have any delegated authority. A leader excels at interpersonal relationships and inspires willing followers. They function within a variety of formal and informal roles. Leaders are creative and innovative; utilizing their personal influence to empower others and challenging the status quo.

The following article employs the letters in the word LEADERSHIP as an acronym to outline the ten learnable characteristics of all nurses as leaders:


“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

Preparing to become a nurse begins long before the first day of nursing school. Acceptance into nursing school requires achieving superior grades in a wide variety of subjects. Once in nursing school, students are challenged by rigorous academic and clinical workloads. Successfully passing the nursing state board exam, clinical specialization and advanced certifications require additional hours of study. Throughout their careers nurses must continuously learn, unlearn and re-learn to keep up with changes in health care delivery, technology and evidence-based practice.


“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

Empathy is the capacity to recognize or understand another’s state of mind or emotion. It is characterized as the ability to put your self into someone else’s shoes. Empathy is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the capacity to effectively perceive, express, and understand your emotions and the emotions of others. The competencies of emotional intelligence include self- awareness, self- management, social awareness and relationship management.


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

An advocate is one who speaks on behalf of another person. Nurses have a legal and moral duty to speak and act on the behalf of their patients. There is no greater privilege or responsibility in the profession of nursing.

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