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Considering a role within leadership? 

Nurse Managers help patients by managing the nurses who care for them, drawing together patient experience and the coordination of the multidisciplinary team. They can also play an important role in providing staff with learning and development opportunities. In senior leadership roles, nurse leaders may be involved in managing services or operations, or in commissioning.

It’s not only about having line management responsibilities, you can act as a role model by exhibiting excellent values and behaviours, inspiring others, leading on change and implementing best practice.

If you enjoy situations where you can take the lead, and like the idea of motivating a team, you may want to consider a leadership role. Leaders use all their resources to make best use of the efforts and ideas of every member of staff. They should be willing to work with change and uncertainty in the spirit of co-operation and respect.

Examples of leadership and management roles:

  • Team Leader 
  • Deputy Sister
  • Sister 
  • Charge Nurse
  • Ward Manager
  • Unit Manager 
  • Team Manager
  • Deputy home Manager 
  • Home manager
  • Clinical site manager 
  • Practice manager
  • Operational manager
  • Service manager
  • Matron
  • Director of Nursing / Chief of Nursing / Head of nursing
  • Board director

If you're interested in leadership roles...

  • Ask your manager about development opportunities, such as taking charge more often, training and developing new staff, undertaking additional courses and training, etc.
  • Find out what resources your employer has to offer staff with regards to leadership. E.g. if you work in the NHS, see the Leadership Academy and any internal courses.
  • Research leadership initiatives in nursing, subscribe to journals, make contacts on LinkedIn and join professional networks for nurse leaders
  • Ask your employer if you can shadow other nurse leaders. Try to shadow leaders from other departments in addition to your own.
  • Get involved with your organisation or employer and enquire about attending future board meetings or organisational meetings. 
  • Use your contacts, colleagues, etc. to get in touch with nurses in leadership roles. Ask them if you can take their contact details for future reference.
  • Study all job vacancies for leadership roles at the level you want (e.g. band 6 / band 7). What roles are out there, and what type of experience and attributes are employers looking for?
  • Speak to your manager for support, and make sure any goals or aspirations are documented in your 121s and appraisal.
  • See if your employer offers mentoring or coaching, or has any career frameworks. 

RCN Leadership forum

It's free to join the RCN Nurses in Management and Leadership forum. Help shape the future of nurse leaders or get support from your peers in the dedicated Facebook group.

RCN Leadership

A suite of bespoke programmes to help you lead positive and effective change. For individuals beginning their leadership career, to experienced leaders wishing to refine specific skills.

NHS Leadership Model

The Healthcare Leadership Model describes the things you can see leaders doing at work and demonstrates how you can develop as a leader – even if you’re not in a formal leadership role.