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How to Develop Strong NP Leadership Skills

Posted on December 17, 2020   |   by   |   Advanced Practice Structure, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills APPs

Career opportunities abound for experienced nurse practitioners with strong NP leadership skills.

Diagram of leadership attributes
Solid nurse practitioner leadership skills can advance your career and support those around you.

In today’s job market, career opportunities abound for those experienced professionals who possess strong nurse practitioner (NP) leadership skills. As healthcare systems move toward multi-disciplinary staffing models, doors are opening to nurse practitioners with the courage and vision to lead. Are you one of these dynamic nurse practitioner professionals?

Leadership can be challenging, but it offers many rewards. The good news is that NPs have a head start—their training provides many of the keys to leading well. According to the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, advanced nursing degrees give NPs the, “knowledge, skills, and abilities that are essential to independent clinical practice.”1

Management guru Jack Welch once said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” For the successful nurse practitioner leader, success means leading yourself, and others, to growth in several areas. According to Nursing Times, the key areas of leadership for NPs include the abilities to: make decisions, delegate appropriately, resolve conflict, and act with integrity.2

Leadership seems like a straightforward concept, but sometimes it can be hard to define. Let’s break down these four leadership areas as they relate to nurse practitioners.

Four Areas of Leadership for NPs

1. Decision Making

For nurse practitioners, decision making requires good critical thinking skills. NPs are trained to consider scenarios and outcomes in making clinical decisions. Working through a decision tree and assessing different courses of action are important skills to master. Nurse practitioners also need to recognize when, and how, to involve others in the decision making process. It also means knowing when to seek sources of credible information to make a sound clinical decision.

2. Delegating Appropriately

Many NPs will find themselves in supervisory roles, overseeing and directing other clinical professionals on the treatment team. Understand your scope of practice, so you can recognize tasks that can be appropriately performed by others. This will allow you to focus on responsibilities specific to your role. A provider with strong NP leadership skills also takes note of others’ abilities and preferences when assigning duties and provides constructive guidance. It’s also important to be receptive to feedback from the people you supervise.

3. Resolving Conflict

A skilled NP leader focuses on the shared goals of the treatment team and remains committed to patient care. When conflicts arise, he or she remains solution-oriented and works with other stakeholders to resolve issues collaboratively. It’s not always easy, but an effective leader is inclusive of other staff. This means being open to others’ ideas and points of view. However, ultimately, it is the job of the leader to make a decision and direct the team. In this case, it helps to state your case factually and share the logic behind the decision you’re making.

4. Acting with Integrity

Those who consistently act with integrity are trustworthy leaders. You can recognize a leader by their honest interactions with others. Nurse practitioners should always act in accordance with the highest professional ethical standards and comply with all applicable legal, safety, and regulatory standards.

Tips to Become a Great NP Leader

It doesn’t require perfection, just a desire to keep growing professionally. Also remember, it can be difficult to lead others if you’re not leading yourself. Here are a few tips to help you remain a strong and competent leader.

1. Command Your Career

With so many demands on your time, it can be difficult to continue growing professionally. Stay current by joining professional organizations, engaging in research, or taking continuing education classes.

2. Be Mentored

Nurse practitioners often serve as mentors and preceptors to less-experienced staff. However, it’s very important that you also have a colleague or mentor on your side to help provide support and perspective.

3. Strive for Balance

Stress and conflict are common in the workplace, but leaders are expected to maintain a positive attitude at all times. Expressing negativity or engaging in workplace gossip can bring you down and impact your effectiveness as a leader. Instead, set aside time for self-care and find ways to recharge outside the workplace.

The healthcare field needs dedicated nurse practitioner leaders like you to provide exceptional patient care now, and into the future.

The team at Melnic is here to support you and your nursing career development. If you are looking for a new Pediatric Nurse Practitioner job, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner job, or Nursing Leadership job, please join our network.

  1. National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties. Nurse Practitioner Core Competencies. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.nonpf.org/resource/resmgr/competencies/npcorecompetenciesfinal2012.pdf Published April 2011. Accessed July 15, 2016
  2. Nursing Times. Leadership Supplement: Leadership Skills for Nurses. https://www.nursingtimes.net/Journals/2011/08/24/j/n/i/Leadership-Skills-for-Nurses.pdf Published August 2011. Accessed July 15, 2016

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