Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Nursing Honours


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Carol Thorogood


Limited research exists about the leadership attributes registered nurses (RNs) want from their clinical nurses (CNs). This study explored the leadership attributes Western Australian RNs considered important in CNs and determine if there were differences in the choice of preferred CN attributes according to RNs years of experience; types of nursing education; level of seniority and nursing specialty. A modified version of the Emerging Workforce's Preference Survey was distributed to 403 RNs with a 30% response rate. The respondents ranked their top three preferences from 4 clusters of traits. S.P.S.S. 15.0 was used to summarise demographic data and then analyse data from the 4 clusters of traits for the main group. Cross tabulations identified between group variations. The RNs wanted CNs to be clinically competent, approachable and supportive; to show understanding and integrity whilst being team players and good communicators. The between groups analysis revealed similar patterns. However, RNs with >5years nursing experience also wanted their CNs to show respect for subordinates while those with mentoring as an important quality for a CN to possess. Hospital-diploma educated RNs most preferred the attributes of motivator of others; respect for subordinates, and integrity; whilst university educated RNs chose team player, followed by calm and understanding. RNs educated via hospital diploma then university favoured the attribute of motivated. RNs employed as Level 1 nurses chose similar attitudes to Level 2 RNs although the former selected the intrinsic quality of understanding while Level 2 RNs preferred dependable. Unlike the main group, RNs in peri-operative and critical care units favoured the personal attribute receptive to people and ideas while nurses employed in management preferred the intrinsic quality of intelligent. Some respondents commented on the negative effect that heavy workloads have on CNs' performance. Others mentioned that RNs are not prepared for the CN role. Competent CNs create a positive work environment which aids staff retention and improves morale. If CNs are to be effective first-line leaders, employers and the nursing profession must espouse both current and potential CNs in developing the knowledge and skills needed for the leadership and mentoring roles required of the CN.