7 Examples of Leadership SMART Goals in Nursing


Leadership smart goals in nursing

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) estimates there is only 64.2% of nurses with a bachelor’s degree or higher ready to join the healthcare field. Leadership goals and career advancement become, therefore, ever more important in the nursing field. 

The SMART goal method is one way to set leadership goals in nursing. This article will go over what a nurse leadership role entails and examples of nurse leader goals using the SMART system.

Skip to the Leadership SMART Goal Examples!

What Is a Nurse Leadership Role

A nurse leader is responsible for supervising a team of nurses, directing patient care plans, and making all the final decisions about their unit’s patients and nurses. A nurse leader has exceptional clinical experience and knowledge. Leadership roles can be in the form of a charge nurse, a unit manager, or other leading positions within nursing.

They have several responsibilities, some of which include the following:

  • Providing patient care
  • Calling physicians to order and evaluate diagnostic tests and order treatments
  • Providing the team members with knowledge and the tools necessary to provide top-quality care
  • Create treatment plans to make sure patients get the best possible care and outcome
  • Find ways to reduce the amount of time the patients stay in the hospital and readmission rates
  • Educating and advocating for patients
  • Keeping up to date on the most recent healthcare research, testing, and treatments
  • Reduce the turnover rate of nurses

A nurse leader must have excellent communication skills and delegate tasks efficiently while having a great deal of compassion for both the nursing team and the patients. 

A nurse leader must also have critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills.

How to Develop Nurse Leadership Goals

Using SMART goals is an ideal way to develop nurse leadership goals. In case you are unfamiliar with SMART goals, let’s take a quick look at what it means.

  • Specific: This goal includes one clearly defined area that is uncomplicated and simple to understand and follow.
  • Measurable: For any goal to be successful, there must be a way to keep track of the progress.
  • Attainable: Goals should be challenging but also attainable
  • Realistic: Make sure the nursing goals you set are within your ability and skills
  • Timely: Setting goals won’t have the full effect if there is no timeframe. Set reasonable deadlines.

Leadership SMART Goal Examples 

Simple goal: I want to be available to provide one on one time with each of my nurses if they are having an issue.

SMART Goal: I will come into work 45 minutes before my shift begins and set aside 10 to 15 minutes to discuss any work-related issues any of my nurses may have and work with them to develop a solution. I will also set up a follow-up meeting within one week to see if we resolved the issue.

If more time is necessary to find a solution, I will set up a specific day and time to converse and troubleshoot the problem until we have an answer that works for both of us.

Forty-five minutes will allow me to sit down with two nurses at separate times before my shift starts.


Simple goal: I want to have good communication and make sure all my nurses are happy and feel safe at work.

SMART Goal: I will set up at least one staff meeting a month to provide suggestions for better patient care, and better communication between the nurses and myself. I will ask for feedback in the same month.

I will discuss any issues that make the nurses feel unsafe or unhappy in their work environment and develop a solution to resolve them.

My nurses will know from day one how seriously I take their safety and happiness. If they have an emergent situation, they can come to me at any time before, during, or after our shift to discuss the issue and make sure it gets resolved right away.

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Simple goal: I want to provide a good work environment for my staff.

SMART Goal: I will set up a suggestion box that can be signed or anonymous. I will set aside some time during each staff meeting to discuss the suggestions. I do my best to set specific times to work on each particular problem.

If they have an emergent situation, they can come to me at any time, and if I am off duty, they can feel free to share their fear or unhappiness with the nurse manager or supervisor. Addressing a nurses’ “problem” will show that other nurse leaders and I care about the nurses as people, not just employees.

A happy nurse who is not fearful of other staff members or situations is more likely to become a long-term employee, get along well with other nurses, and even provide help to new nurses and excellent patient care. A situation where everyone wins!


Simple goal: I want to answer my nurse’s patient care questions and help them learn more efficient and better care methods for our patients.

SMART Goal: I will attend workshops, seminars, conferences every quarter of the year and keep up on new research and clinical trials specific to the specialty area I work in, for example, cardiac, maternity, oncology, or any other specialty area. I will then present that knowledge in the form of an in-service or during staff meetings.

Many workshops and other education sources pertain to general medical and surgical care; therefore, I will have a well-rounded educational base for any unit I work on and guide and teach my nurses what I have learned.

Related Reading: How to Write an Essay on Nursing Career Goals

Simple Goal: I will make sure all new nurses know what I expect of them.

SMART Goal: I will include my expectations in the paperwork that every new nurse receives. That addresses all the policies and procedures for the unit I run and any highlighted facility policy important to nurses, such as HIPAA violations. I expect all nurses to read and sign the sheet within two weeks. 

I will aim for all new nurses to attend most of the staff meetings. This includes keeping up to date with continuing education credits and asking questions or for help if they are unsure of a specific procedure or skill.

I want to make sure my nurses understand that there are no short-cuts in nursing care. Their job is to provide excellent care to all patients regardless of age, race, gender, or background. Nurses are to treat all patients equally, as well as their family members.


Simple Goal: As a nurse leader, I will take part in patient care and know the patients on my unit.  

SMART Goal: I will spend at least an extra five minutes connecting with the patients on the unit and their family members to know them as people, not just as patients or a room number. I try to see at least three to four patients per day. 


Simple Goal: I will function as a mentor for all my nurses. 

SMART Goal: I want to pass on my knowledge and teach my nurses all I know. So I will include a short teaching session after each staff meeting about lessons that I have learned in my years as a nurse. These can be about general nursing topics or specifically about experiences of mine as a nurse. This is a great way to bond with my nurses as a team and pass on my knowledge in small increments consistently.

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