Clinical Nurse Leader: Leadership Competencies

Remarkable consistency exists in research detailing the competencies that nurse leaders need in this information age. In this era where nurses expect risks, nurse leaders can apply for their exceptional leadership role in integrating evidence-based practices to avert these risks (Rigolosi, 2013). After studying the role of nursing leaders that relate to nursing practice in the white paper, I agree that nurse leaders play vital roles in health care.

I acknowledge that while nursing competencies of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AANA) are significant to nursing practice, I believe that other competencies have an impact in practice that the AANA should consider significant.

According to Finkelman (2011), the influential nature of nurse leaders in the delivery of better care outcomes makes nursing practice a continuous process that requires regular management of people and resources. As research shows, nurse leaders have to embrace evidence-based practices, if they are to handle the increasing pressure to produce results. Rigolosi (2013) emphasizes that leading in designing and implementing evidence-based practices is an important approach to opening up professional nursing and enhancing care delivery. The white paper emphasizes that aiding in spotting and gathering care outcomes is an extremely important role of nursing leaders.

The white paper details specific leadership themes of clinical nurse leaders that relate to nursing practice (Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse Leader Education and Practice, 2013). Clinical practitioners hope that this white paper can shed light on the roles of nurse leaders that create improved care outcomes. It is rather odd that the white paper only indicates a subset of roles on clinical leaders, even as evidence shows that they have other important leadership roles.

I hold that nurse leaders should not limit themselves to the core competencies outlined in the white paper but should understand the broader system within which nursing functions. While the white paper details competencies that they consider important, there are other core competencies that individual leaders should possess to improve care delivery and outcomes.

A core competency that nurse leaders should have is the ability to work towards common goals, using well-informed strategic thinking. With continuous system changes, nurse leaders are at the forefront of care delivery and should adapt to changes in their roles (Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse Leader Education and Practice, 2013). The AANA also fails to consider the impact of different leadership practices in leading teams and encouraging collaboration.

Leadership styles can decide how nurse leaders empower their staff, set the pace for attaining goals, and help work towards achieving a common vision (Finkelman, 2011). Emotional intelligence is another important attribute that nurses have to integrate into their practice. Using emotional intelligence, Finkelman (2011) asserts that nurse leaders can enhance top talent retention, encourage teamwork, improve personnel performance, establish organizational trust, and create efficient use of time. Nurse leaders who integrate emotional intelligence in the workplace can create a more satisfied workforce, which provides the best quality care to patients.

All nursing systems need effective leadership that can embrace change and handles opportunities that arise within care settings. The increasing pressure to meet results creates dilemmas for nursing leadership in today’s era. While team leadership and collaboration are key to achieving desirable care outcomes, differences in age and cultural diversity are affecting the leadership strategy that each nurse implements. The assumption that each nurse leader requires the competencies outlined in the AACN white paper holds; however, each nurse leader has to consider other leadership competencies that are nonetheless not in the white paper. Nurse leaders can pick an all-encompassing leadership style, adapt to strategic thinking, and use their emotional intelligence abilities to improve care outcomes.


Finkelman, A. (2011). Leadership and Management for Nurses: Core Competencies for Quality Care (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Competencies and Curricular Expectations for Clinical Nurse Leader Education and Practice. (2013). Web.

Rigolosi, E. M. (2013). Management and Leadership in Nursing and Health Care: An Experiential Approach. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

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