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Five Traits Displayed by Highly Successful Nurse Managers

Career News May 8, 2013

There are strict requirements in place for a nursing career to be successful. The first step is to pass the NCLEX, but succeeding as a nurse also involves having a nurse manager as a mentor with whom you have a good relationship. Nurse managers are hugely influential in the lives of new and veteran nurses to help them maintain their professionalism and competency in the way in which they carry out their responsibilities to their patients. One of the most notable characteristics of a successful nurse manager is an understanding of how to succeed and advance in the nursing profession.

What Qualifications Do Nurse Managers Need?

Nurse managers must have a bachelor’s degree, usually a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) in order to meet the requirements of the position. They can pursue an advanced degree, such as an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), or take other classes dealing with health care management. It takes more than educational qualifications to be successful as a nurse manager. Nurse managers are responsible for the health and welfare of individuals that they are managing.

Five Traits That Successful nurse Managers Must Have

Successful nurse managers share five common traits regardless of their work experiences. These traits come from professionals in the role that have the knowledge and experience with what it takes to be successful.

Communications Skills

Being able to communicate effectively is one of the most valuable traits of successful nurse managers. This job is similar to a mother with several small children to look after. All the children are unique with different personality and needs. They each behave differently and learn new skills differently. When nurse managers are in charge of adult nurses, the key is to ensure they are aware of the differences between each nurse when delegating, listening to their concerns, evaluating their performance and handling various types of incidents that can take place.


It is safe to assume that a nurse manager will have leadership skills. According to some nurse managers, this is not always the case. They are afraid of displeasing the administration of the hospital that they do not lead the nursing staff. Instead, they walk around on eggshells, too afraid to take a stand for fear of making a mistake. Successful nurse managers should engage in behavior that is effective, and if needed, take the lead on policy change, which will benefit all stakeholders. They must balance the needs of the patients, the nursing staff and administration.

Ability to Mentor

The mentoring relationship between the nurse manager, the nursing staff, as well as LPN’s and nursing assistants is tremendously significant. In order to be successful in the role of a mentor, a nurse manager should understand the challenges that face all staff members simply because of the demands placed on them every day in the tasks they have to do. A nurse manager must lead by example.

Encourage Collaboration

Dr. Rose O. Sherman, RN (registered nurse), and Associate Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nursing Leadership Institute in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University states that in order to be a successful nurse manager one must have interpersonal skills. These are essential for dealing with patients, their families and the nursing staff, as well as other medical professionals involved in the patient’s care. Being able to communicate with all of these different groups, the nurse manager encourages collaboration among them. In turn, creates a learning environment that is highly beneficial and superior patient care.


Dr. Sherman stated that nurses have to “toughen up” and not take everything, which is said to them personal. A nurse manager has to learn to respond, rather than react to a situation, and take a look at the circumstances that precipitated the criticism or the hurtful remark. He or she has to help nurses realize that it is not directed at them personally, and arise from the situation itself. The manager has to evaluate the criticism, be able to take and give constructive criticism and discuss the situation with colleagues. This will help the nurse manager and nurses be successful. Thus, a nurse manager that displays the five traits of communication, leadership, mentorship, collaboration, and fortitude will be successful at what they do.

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