Identification of those leadership qualities which nurses believe led to their successful attainment of a nursing management position may help in understanding how to identify and foster leadership potential amongst nursing staff. This study asked nurse managers to indicate the important factors which influenced and facilitated their entry to management positions with a particular reference to the development of leadership characteristics. The results suggest that the leadership qualities we expect nurse managers to display evolve in a largely random way. Additionally, there is evidence that the development of leadership skills and attainment of management positions remains fragmented and random in nature. Because of this, individual nurse managers develop leadership skills almost by default using informal strategies to learn and develop. These findings should provide direction to educational providers and senior managers who seek to develop future leaders and managers.

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