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The Attributes of Clinical Nurse Leader

All of the CNLs interviewed noted various attributes that they deemed significant or worth including in the role of CNL. Attributes that were outlined included being adaptable, enabling nursing staff, being consistent, communicating effectively and possessing a sense of humour. Some attributes were raised by only a few CNLs, for example gender as a factor that may influence how the role is performed was only mentioned by one CNL.


Three CNLs described the ability to be varied and adaptable as necessary attributes to function in this role. As one CNL said: “To me the role varies from day to day … it would have to be one of the most adaptive role I suppose I have been part of”. Another CNL rated this attribute as key, describing: “The important features of the role certainly being able to be adaptable” and a third CNL referred to the many functions of the clinical nurse leader as requiring the nurse to wear “many hats”.


One CNL raised gender as an attribute that may influence the function of a CNL, not concluding whether one gender is more effective than the other instead stating: “I think there’s a huge gender difference between the male and female Charge Nurse” and moving on to further describe how a male and female Clinical Nurse Leader may approach performance management issues with nursing staff differently.


Four CNLs spoke of the importance of enabling their nursing staff to function autonomously and make clinical decisions. One described her response when nursing staff had approached her for solutions.

Well that’s good that you recognise that … how do you think we can change so that they don’t think know that I’m not sending them away to do it on their own,

I’m willing to help them and there are other people out there that can help.


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