All CNLs talked about features of their role. There was a general belief that Clinical Nurse Leaders hold “a very pivotal role on the ward”. This pivotal role arises from the various responsibilities that the nurse leaders have. As one CNL said CNLs have “many hats …. Quality and Risk, Health and Safety …. being the accountant being able to look at the
g e n e r a l l e d g e r a n d b e i n g a b l e t o f a t h o m o u t w h a t v a r i a n c e m e a n s ” .
Implicit in the role are the responsibilities the CNLs have and the degree of responsibility that the role carries. “There’s a big sense of responsibility that comes with the role”. These responsibilities require the nurse leader to set nursing standards for themselves and for the ward. As one CNL said, “I have set the standard and expectations and people know the standard [they] know what’s expected”. The role entails more than setting the standard, it involves the CNL supporting staff to meet the standard and when, it is not met, to establish why. One talked of the importance of clear communication of nursing standards to her staff:
because that’s what it’s all about, having trust in each other and from the
l e a d e r s h i p p e r s p e c t i v e m a k i n g s u r e t h e y ’ r e v e r y c l e a r a b o u t w h a t i t i s t h e y a r providing, how they are to provide it and what the standard is. e
Meeting standards requires the CNL to monitor the quality of nursing care given. This process of monitoring involves recognising that the standard may not always be met. “I’m very clear about the standard of care here …. we try really hard sometimes we don’t [always] get it right but we try really hard to get it right”. Or, as another CNL described, “every now and then when we have meetings, we have to think now what have we been
d o i n g c ’ m o n t h i n k a b o u t w h a t w e c a n i m p r o v e o n ” .
Four clinical nurse leaders referred to the use of the authority or legitimate power that the role carries. One CNL clarified that whilst the job carried organisational delegation of