Take a quick look below and consider these seven strategies to develop your own nursing leadership potential.

  1. Understand that nurse leaders are made, not born. Sure, there are people who seem to have innate leadership abilities, but leadership can be cultivated. You don’t have to be a natural extrovert, and you don’t have to have a long background of leadership experience. You just have to be willing to learn more about yourself and cultivate the skills you need.
  2. Read, read, read. Aspiring nurse leaders can never learn too much! You can read health care articles from major newspapers and journals,leadership books and even checking out TED talks online.
  3. Volunteer. There’s a committee at your organization that needs you; sign up and actively participate. This can help you acquire leadership skills and build your professional network. You can also volunteer in your community and make sure people know that you’re a nurse and bring your nursing expertise to the table.
  4. Go back to school. The IOM report called for increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020.  But you don’t have to stop there if you already have a baccalaureate degree. By getting additional education, nurses can build up their own credibility as leaders.
  5. Apply for a leadership training program. A growing number of opportunities for leadership development exist, from nursing-specific programs like the Wharton Nursing Leaders Program and the Future of Nursing Scholars programs, to more general leadership training programs in your communities.
  6. Join a professional organization. This is an important step to continue building your network. It will also give you access to more information on your areas of professional interest, including conferences and meetings that you might want to attend. You might even find some leadership opportunities within the organization.
  7. Get mentored. Some organizations have formal mentorship programs, so take advantage of that if it’s available to you. Otherwise, you might find a more experienced nurse, perhaps a manager or leader at work, or an instructor or professor from your school days who can be a sounding board and source of guidance for you. Then, don’t forget to pay it forward.