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Keywords:

  • academic leadership;
  • interviews;
  • leadership;
  • qualitative study

Aim

To determine which characteristics of academic leadership are perceived to be necessary for nursing deans to be successful.

Background

Effective leadership is essential for the continued growth of the discipline.

Method

A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with 30 deans (academics in universities who headed a nursing faculty and degree programmes) was conducted in three countries – Canada, England and Australia. The conversations were analysed for leadership attributes.

Result

Sixty personal and positional attributes were nominated by the participants. Of these, the most frequent attribute was ‘having vision’. Personal attributes included: passion, patience, courage, facilitating, sharing and being supportive. Positional attributes included: communication, faculty development, role modelling, good management and promoting nursing.

Conclusion

Both positional and personal aspects of academic leadership are important to assist in developing a succession plan and education for new deans.

Implications for nursing management

It is important that talented people are recognised as potential leaders of the future. These future leaders should be given every chance to grow and develop through exposure to opportunities to develop skills and the attributes necessary for effective deanship. Strategic mentoring could prove to be useful in developing and supporting the growth of future deans of nursing.