As the largest group of professional workers in the health care field, nurses possess the numbers to command a key role among health professionals. It is, however, apparent that nurses must assume a more visible and vital leadership role in the delivery of health care if nursing is to remain a viable profession. Nursing's immediate goal must be to unite forces in an effort to bring about greater involvement of nurses in planning, delivering and assuming accountability for the nursing component of health services at all levels. The ease with which the profession is able to accomplish this goal is dependent upon the ability of nursing's leadership to evoke a sense of harmony and balance within the profession, while creating a dynamic image of nursing among other health professionals and the public.
Today, there is a need for strong moral leadership in the nursing profession. In ‘moral leadership’ the power of the leader is used to work with the group as a whole, while guiding individual members towards satisfaction and self-fulfilment. A critical evaluation of the profession's leadership capabilities should begin with definitions of the role and responsibility of nurses for leadership in the professional association. By its very nature, the professional association stands as the leadership mechanism of the profession and, by working through the association, nursing leadership can unify nursing forces, implement plans aimed at involving more nurses in health planning activities, and facilitate the involvement of individual nurses in determining the conditions of employment under which they practise.