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Leadership Skills You Need To Become a Charge Nurse

NurseJournal Staff
Updated April 27, 2022
    Discover what leadership skills you need to obtain a charge nurse role and how to build these abilities for better job prospects.
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    If you are interested in advancing your nursing career and becoming a charge nurse, you must demonstrate specific leadership abilities. Explore this page to get an idea of the essential skills necessary to grow into a leadership nursing position.

    The first step to becoming a good charge nurse is being able to lead a shift effectively. Below are five critical leadership skills that can help you stand out to employers.

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    The 5 Most Important Leadership Skills for Charge Nurses

    What does a charge nurse do? The charge nurse role is all-encompassing. It takes an individual who possesses clinical nursing competencies, compassion, and empathy.

    Having the abilities to identify issues, delegate tasks, find solutions, mentor, and communicate effectively make a successful leader in nursing.

    1. Understand When and How to Delegate Tasks

    Each member of the nursing team brings unique skills to the workplace. The charge nurse must identify the strengths and weaknesses of each employee and ensure everyone can function within their scope of practice. This allows the charge nurse to decide how and when to assign duties and to whom to designate the tasks.

    To standardize the nursing delegation process, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and the American Nurses Association established the Five Rights of Delegation. Adhering to these guidelines, when distributing responsibilities, enhances patient care.

    Five Rights of Delegation:

    • check-circleRight Task
    • check-circleRight Circumstance
    • check-circleRight Person
    • check-circleRight Direction and Communication
    • check-circleRight Supervision and Evaluation

    2. Contribute to a Safe and Trustworthy Workplace Environment

    In the charge nurse role, preventing physical injuries is crucial. Cultivating relationships and establishing trust with the staff fosters a safe and healthy work environment.

    Morale improves when a team feels secure with each other and their superiors. This nurturing environment promotes lower stress, higher patient satisfaction, confidence in other team members, and increased collaboration.

    A safe workplace can be maintained by balancing admissions and determining appropriate nurse-to-patient ratio in accordance with acuity. Proper leadership in nursing traits include listening to your team, identifying when to step in, and being transparent and approachable.

    Team-building activities enhance bonding and build rapport among coworkers.

    Some examples include:

    • Breaking up into groups that race to complete the same problem-solving activity
    • Organizing gatherings or charity events
    • Celebrating birthdays or successes through recognition programs

    3. Function as a Mentor to Nursing Staff

    A charge nurse works in the trenches alongside the team, but also takes a step back to assess employees and identify opportunities for coaching. Recognizing the staff’s talents, challenging them, and offering praise builds a strong frontline.

    Displaying organizational skills and confidence, while working in an ethical manner with integrity, are important leadership qualities in nursing. Successful nurse mentors work well under pressure while providing solutions and support in a creative learning environment.

    A charge nurse serves as a role model through patience, advocacy, welcoming feedback, and building confidence in the team.

    4. Exhibit Effective Communication Techniques

    Charge nurses must clearly communicate with the unit to provide patients with quality care. A good leader ensures clear, concise, and accurate communication by keeping the nurses and other interdisciplinary members informed about admissions, discharges, and any change in patient status.

    Key components to effective communication include:

    • Active Listening: Active listening involves fully engaging with the speaker. This is accomplished by listening to what someone says, observing their nonverbal behavior, and offering feedback through paraphrasing.
    • Nonverbal Communication: Eye contact, body language, and facial expression convey a powerful message and may communicate more effectively than words.
    • Verbal Communication: Coherent, clear verbal exchanges help avoid misunderstandings.
    • Written Communication: Writing communication and email must be comprehensible and straightforward. Medical record entries must be concrete with correct grammar and punctuation.
    • Presentation Skills: Presentations are effective with planning, understanding your audience, and use of appealing visual aids. Offering a food incentive can be an innovative way to increase your in-service turnout.

    5. Utilizing Critical Thinking

    Critical thinking must be nurtured and consistently developed. This requires the ability to predict, assess, and evaluate situations and offer solutions and conflict resolution.

    De-escalating issues, recognizing elevated levels of anxiety in the unit, and observing when a team member is overwhelmed requires active, cognitive thinking. A charge nurse must be able to problem solve and prevent a negative outcome.

    Essential critical thinking skills in nursing include:

    • Analysis: Collecting/processing subjective and objective information and identifying the course of action
    • Interpretation: Understanding/clarifying the meaning of the information
    • Evaluation: Assessing the value of the data and whether it is credible
    • Inference: Making deductions about information, assessing your knowledge, and ensuring it is dependable based on evidence and reasoning
    • Explanation: Communicating information to patients and staff to make an educated decision
    • Self-Regulation: Managing emotions and non-verbal cues and correcting your way of thinking when faced with a situation

    How to Build Leadership Skills in Nursing

    To build leadership skills for a charge nurse role, identify what leadership qualities you already possess. Can you effectively communicate with people at all levels (i.e., subordinates, peers, supervisors, patients, families)? Do you foster compassion and advocacy? Are you patient, organized, and good at organizing priorities?

    Documenting your strengths and growth areas can establish a great baseline as you prepare for this new position. Schedule a time to meet with your supervisor to discuss your desire to advance your career. Welcome feedback.

    Shadowing a charge nurse can help you experience the day-to-day responsibilities in the role. Take written and mental notes of how events unfold. Ask questions. Fully comprehending your mentor’s actions and reasoning behind them can help develop your mindset as a future leader.

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.