Nurse Leadership: A Matter Of Know, Like and Trust


Published: 31 May 2016

Leadership is a skill set to be learnt and used by all nurses.

It’s as simple as getting people to do things that you need or want done your way. Whether you can influence and inspire others to follow your lead depends on your expertise (i.e. knowledge and skills), your behaviour and your attitude.

In leadership, know, like and trust are fundamental to being able to move the team in the direction you want them to go, whether it be getting them to improve their behaviour when dealing with visiting consultants and relatives of patients, or maintaining a positive culture through massive change.

Know you, like you, trust you factors are terms used by sales and marketing professionals. The premise is that when all things are equal – the price, the quality and the availability of a product – the person with the highest know, like and trust factors will get the sale.

If you want your team to actively support you in achieving your goals, you should want to understand the precepts of the know you / like you / trust you triad.

Know you – Communication

According to Simon Sinek we are ‘herd animals’ – we work better and achieve more when we come together to achieve a common goal.

  • Build connections by spending time with your team, either at work or socially;
  • Share some of your life, for example your family, your hobbies or your passions (workplace appropriate);
  • Be accessible;
  • Be approachable;
  • Be visible; and
  • Encourage conversation and feedback.

According to Albert Mehrabian (2020), only 7% of our communication is the words we speak. Tone, syntax, pitch, volume and speed of delivery etc. account for 38%. That leaves 55% of our communication attributed to our facial expressions or body language. We are communicating even when we are unaware of it.

nurses communicating effectively

Like you – Empathy

Empathy is the emotional intelligence skill of being able to see the world from the perspective of another person. It allows us to honour others by being fully present when they speak. Empathy is not necessarily to agree with another, but to respect their right to express their opinion.

In order to practise empathy:

  • Use listening skills – be a conscious and engaged listener, don’t interrupt;
  • Give people a chance to express themselves, their beliefs and motives;
  • Make a contribution;
  • Be respectful; and
  • Acknowledge the people you work with – praise them publicly for work well done.

Trust you – Integrity

“Trust affects a leader’s impact and the company’s bottom line more than any other single thing” (Horsager 2012).

  • If you talk the talk, then walk the walk. Don’t expect behaviour and attitudes that you do not exemplify;
  • Treat people the same and equally;
  • Be consistent and keep commitments;
  • Be fair;
  • Develop your emotional intelligence;
  • Be loyal;
  • Be competent; and
  • Clarify your expectations.

The universal key performance indicators in healthcare of improved productivity, improved patient care outcomes, improved experience for external customers and improvement to the organisation’s ‘bottom line’ will be more easily achieved when you build these three basic human qualities of like, know and trust.