A demand for high quality care has drawn attention to leadership issues. The nurse managing role has changed over the years and become more complex with a high burden of work. Few studies describe the perspective of ‘those being lead’. The aim of this study was to describe staff conceptions about nursing leadership on an intensive care unit. Ten members of staff were interviewed and analysed according to a phenomenographical approach, focusing variations in how informants experience nursing leadership and make sense of the world around them. The findings show that nursing leadership was considered to be ‘being present and available in daily work’, ‘supporting everyday practice’, ‘facilitating professional acknowledgement’ and to ‘improve care both as individuals and as a team’. Transformational leadership seemed to be suitable to meet the staff perspective. In such leadership communicative skills is a core to work with strong professionals by being present and available.