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Christine Paul Cardenas

The Most Effective Leadership Styles in Nursing

Every type of leadership style is different and can thrive in situations and workplaces. Here are some common leadership styles — which is right for you?

Nursing is a career that requires strong leadership and management skills. Leaders are motivators and educators, implementing a variety of leadership styles and approaches to effectively manage a team. Those with the skills and motivation to become a leader, educator or manager would benefit from earning their Registered Nurse (RN) license. Nurse leaders thrive as nurse educators, preceptors for new graduate RNs, and RN resources.

Every type of leadership style is different and can thrive in situations and workplaces, all through unique methods for dealing with challenges. Here are some common leadership styles — which is right for you?


Transformational leaders utilize collaboration, shared vision, innovation and encouragement. These leaders are often extroverts, inspiring their team with positivity.

This leadership style is effective for nurse leaders/managers who are leading recent graduates and most well-suited for workplaces that have an established organizational structure.

Successful transformational leaders thrive when given opportunities to guide students through new experiences and support them along the way.

These types of leaders are successful because they’re able to guide and direct their team members well.


Democratic leaders utilize an open line of communication with their team when making important decisions, taking opinions into account. This leadership style has the most involvement from team members within the organization. This leadership style is best suited for healthcare policymakers.

The challenge of this leadership style is that it’s not the ideal method for timely, high-stress situations like emergencies. 


Empathy and support are two important components of servant leadership. Servant leaders are supportive, and they are active listeners. Because servant leaders are active listeners, they can more effectively meet the needs of the team members and the patients, clients, and residents. Servant leaders flourish with diversity in the workplace. Servant leaders make the team members feel heard and valued. These types of leaders are well-suited for dermatology clinics, Hospice, assisted living, memory care and home health.


Informal nurse leaders do not formally hold a managerial or administrative position at a healthcare facility but possess strong leadership and management skills. These types of nurse leaders are very proactive and diligent. They’re the type of nurses that you’d want at the bedside if you are a patient and by your side, if you are on the job.

Informal nurse leaders are often overlooked but their work performance is crucial in the field of nursing. Informal nurse leaders have a lot of experience which gives them a high level of clinical competency and can lead and train novice nurses.

While informal nurse leaders cannot hire and fire employees, they’re often regarded as the champions and troubleshooters of the unit.

These types of nurse leaders are great in certain roles such as becoming nurse educators, preceptors for new graduate RNs, or resource RN in a big hospital setting.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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