5 Must-Have Qualities of a Great Director of Nursing

 

In this article, we're going to dive in and talk about some of the important qualities of a great Director of Nursing.

picture of a director of nursing
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There are 5 qualities of a director of nursing we believe every DON should have. Those are…

  1. Emotional Intelligence

  2. Clinical IQ

  3. Self-discipline and Accountability

  4. Communication Skills

  5. Genuine Love for the Job

Below we're going to dissect each trait and discuss why we believe those traits are very important.

The nurse who serves as a Director of Nursing has earned that title and position.

These people are typically registered nurses who rise to become supervisors in their nursing unit.

They possess excellent communicative and problem-solving skills, and their nursing knowledge is high.

While they don't need to go through specialized training before they can become Directors of Nursing, these nurses already have many of the necessary traits for the position.

Below are five qualities that any great Director of Nursing will possess.

Qualities of a Director of Nursing

1. Emotional Intelligence

Yes, a Director of Nursing should have a relatively high IQ and should also possess high emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to recognize others’ emotions and to assess emotional responses and attitudes toward circumstances.

A Director of Nursing needs to be able to look at different situations and gauge how all parties involved are feeling.

Not only that, but he or she must be able to read into his or her own feelings and how those might impact his or her behavior or actions.

Being able to identify one’s own emotions as well as the feelings of others really does make a world of difference.

Most of us don’t notice the impacts of this until it’s too late.

The term emotional intelligence may be unfamiliar to some people, but it’s a concept that any leader should be aware of.

There are three primary factors that go into true emotional intelligence.

The first is emotional awareness, which refers to an individual’s discernment of his or her feelings as well as those of other people.

The second factor is the ability to use those identified emotions to guide behaviors and problem-solving strategies.

It’s one thing to be able to identify that you’re feeling a certain way; it’s something else to use that knowledge to take the next appropriate action.

Finally, the third factor in high emotional intelligence is the ability to manage emotions.

This is so important in the field of nursing, especially for a director of nursing.

This is a career area that deals with a lot of people on a daily basis.

There is a lot of stress related to the job, and, at times, the circumstances can be dire.

These kinds of scenarios require a leader who is able to manage his or her feelings and use them to take an appropriate course of action.

Whether positive or negative, emotions play a huge role in our day-to-day lives.

For a Director of Nursing, being aware of the importance of feelings and how to use them to guide others’ actions and kick-start problem-solving skills is a plus.

2. Clinical IQ

Besides emotional intelligence, a Director of Nursing needs to have knowledge when it comes to the field of healthcare.

These leaders are the top go-to people for their colleagues, so they need to possess a wealth of knowledge related to their field.

Moreover, Directors are often watched closely to ensure that they have a deep understanding of their job role and responsibilities.

There isn’t much room for error when it comes to managing a nursing department.

Therefore, high clinical IQ is a non-negotiable quality for a Director of Nursing.

One way to ensure that a Director of Nursing has what it takes to lead and manage a team of nurses is to look at their credentials.

Education and licensure is critical to the healthcare field, and Directors should possess diplomas, certificates, and/or licenses from quality institutions.

In the United States, those in the nursing field need to be recognized by certain state agencies to prove their clinical capabilities.

Of course, we can’t simply go by someone’s paperwork.

That’s why clinical IQ is only one of the top qualities of a great Director of Nursing.

It’s great to have knowledge of a particular subject, but putting it into practice is another story.

Directors need to be able to perform at a high level while adhering to standards of practice and success.

This individual is a role model for the nurses under his or her supervision, so it is critical to be able to demonstrate capabilities and serve as a positive example for others.

The right clinical training and education will shine through in those people who are able to handle difficult scenarios and stick to healthcare practices and regulations.

3. Self-Discipline & Accountability

Self-discipline is a crucial trait for anyone who wants to achieve success.

For Directors of Nursing, it’s something that they need if they’re going to lead others and serve as an example of service. In a very fast-paced career such as nursing, there isn't going to be someone waiting over the

Director’s shoulder to tell them what to do. Instead, the Director needs to be able to gather information, process it, and come to a solution on his or her own.

This isn’t to say that the Director won’t have any help, but it’s critical that he or she is able to hold the reins when it comes to taking action.

Furthermore, a Director of Nursing is someone whom nurses look to for direction and instructions.

Often times, this person is responsible for setting an agenda or company goals.

Directors help to set up the standards and regulations of the workplace, so not only are they holding themselves accountable, but their staff as well.

In other words, the Director needs to hold their team to high standards, while also setting the bar high for themselves.

This creates a culture where everyone is motivated to succeed, and everyone knows what’s expected of them.

Having a leader who isn’t motivated to change his or her own self means that the team will feel discouraged and without direction.

Unfortunately, many people have experienced this kind of situation.

It’s like being stuck in a time-loop where there is zero progress, no growth, and team morale is at a low.

Besides affecting the attitude of the staff, it also trickles down to the patients, finances, and even the reputation of the business.

People need accountability, so a Director must be able to set goals and action plans so that everyone is on the same page and is pushing towards a collaborative objective.

This brings us to our next point.

4. Communication Skills

As they say, communication is key. Accountability without communication is just an unfulfilled dream or a broken promise.

It’s amazing how many managers expect the staff to know what they want when there is zero communication about it.

Nurses are many great things, but they’re not mind readers.

They need a director who will break things down and explain what the standard level of care is for the workplace as well as how he or she is raising the bar.

Poor communication skills lead to resentment, decreased performance, patient dissatisfaction, and, in the nursing field, risks, or threats to people’s health.

Communication is a skill that anyone can learn, so Directors don’t need to be discouraged if this is an area that they need to work on.

Fortunately, there is so much technology available today that communication can be more streamlined and efficient than ever before.

Keep in mind that healthy communications between the Director and the staff translates to proper techniques and communication between nurses and patients.

It’s a trickle-down effect that you can actually see as time goes on, and that’s super exciting and validating.

We should also point out that Directors must communicate with their nurses in a way that is helpful, supportive, and constructive.

Employees who have managers who are rude, dismissive, and negative perform much worse than those who have uplifting and clear-headed managers.

Enjoy speaking with others, and they’ll enjoy listening to you and taking your instructions seriously.

Hold regular meetings to learn what the nurses need and how you can make that happen together.

Really view the workplace as a team effort with nurses, doctors, surgeons, and management collaborating together on a common objective.

Give praise and constructive criticism where it’s due.

5. Genuine Love for What They Do

When you have passion for a job, it feels less like work and more like what you’ve been called to do.

It’s that intrinsic excitement that the person has for the job that makes him or her such a great fit for the position.

A Director of Nursing has worked as a registered nurse and taken to the role exceedingly well.

Besides an eye for empathy and nurture, these nurses also possess a strong inner drive and desire to lead others on the path to stellar patient care.

When a person has a passion for his or her career, it’s obvious, and it shows in everything that they do.

They’re able to motivate their colleagues, treat patients with respect and undivided attention, and approach challenges and difficulties with grace.

It’s something that rubs off on those around them, creating a workplace of inspired and intelligent individuals.

That being said, just because someone has passion for their job, it doesn’t mean that they prance down the halls each day grinning from ear to ear.

Especially in the field of nursing, the job can be tough.

However, those who truly enjoy what they’re doing are grateful to be there, and they approach each day as if it’s going to teach them something amazing.

Keep in mind that the Director sets the tone for how everyone else will feel, so if he or she shows his or her passion, others are likely to adopt a more positive attitude.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has given you a glimpse of some of the most essential attributes of a Director of Nursing.

I'm definitely of the mindset that leadership sets the tone. It starts from the top and trickles its way down.

This is part of the reason why good nursing leadership is so important.

Did we miss any other important traits of a Director of Nursing?

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