• clinical development units;
  • education;
  • evidence-based practice;
  • leadership;
  • magnet hospital;
  • quality

Background  Leadership strategies are important in facilitating the nursing profession to reach their optimum standards in the practice environment.

Aim  To compare and contrast the central tenets of contemporary quality initiatives that are commensurate with enabling the environment so that best practice can occur.

Key issues  Democratic leadership, accessible and relevant education and professional development, the incorporation of evidence into practice and the ability of facilities to be responsive to change are core considerations for the successful maintenance of practice standards that are consistent with best nursing practice.

Conclusion  While different concerns of management drive the adoption of contemporary approaches, there are many similarities in the how these approaches are translated into action in the clinical setting.

Implications for nursing management  Managers should focus on core principles of professional nursing that add value to practice rather than business processes.