AONL Nurse Leader Core Competencies

AONL is committed to developing and disseminating core competencies for nurse leaders in a variety of care settings and levels of responsibilities. These competencies have been developed by experts in the nursing leadership field and approved by the AONL Board of Directors.

Download the AONL Nurse Leader Core Competencies

AONL Nurse Leader Competencies Model

The AONL Nurse Leader Core Competencies provide the framework for the knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with effective leadership--from first time leaders to experienced executives. The overarching core competencies encompass the breadth and depth of the nursing leadership specialty, across health care settings and leadership roles.

Specific to each leadership role are functional, or technical, competencies. These competencies distinguish the needed competencies in various roles and settings. Updated Links to role-specific core and functional competencies will be coming soon.

AONL Nurse Leader Competencies Model

Download the Nurse Leader Core Competency Model

Additional References

Competency Reliability and Validity

The reliability and validity for the AONL Nurse Executive Competencies is established by periodic job analysis/role delineation studies. The current AONL Leadership Competencies were statistically validated as part of the AONE job analysis survey conducted in 2013. The validation analysis should be cited as follows: American Organization for Nurse Executives (AONE). (2014). A National Practice Analysis Study of the Nurse Executive.

AONE: Chicago, Illinois. Please note that AONL is currently updating the reliability and validity of the competencies.

Nurse Leader Skill Assessments

Self Assessment | 180 Assessment | Organizational Assessment
AONL offers evaluation assessments for nurse leaders looking to improve their skill set. Through these skills assessments you can evaluate your skills, knowledge and abilities for the nurse manager and nurse executive roles. The simple exercise of rating yourself and asking others to rate you provides tremendous insight on hidden strengths, blind spots and areas for development.

Access Skill Assessments

Functional AONL Competencies


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Nurse Executive Competencies

Executives can use these competencies as a self-assessment tool, useful in the identification of possible areas for growth. Aspiring nurse leaders can use them in planning personal preparation for their careers. Health care organizations may utilize them as a guideline for job descriptions, expectations and evaluations of nurse leaders. Nurse educators can utilize them as a curriculum guideline for the educational preparation of nurses seeking expertise and knowledge in executive practice.

Download Nurse Executive Competencies

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Nurse Manager Competencies

The Nurse Manager Competencies are based on the Nurse Manager Learning Domain Framework and capture the skills, knowledge and abilities that guide the practice of these nurse leaders. The successful nurse leader must gain expertise in all three domains: the science of managing the business; the art of leading the people; the leader within.

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AONL Permission of Use

All published materials of AONL are protected under federal copyright and trademark laws. However, AONL occasionally grants permission to use excerpts for limited distribution for educational, non-commercial use to individuals whose work is consistent with the AONL mission and reviewed by AONL. To request permission to reprint, please complete the permission request form. Once your information has been received, it will take approximately 10 business days to process.

Unauthorized use of copyrighted materials without prior permission by AONL is a violation of copyright law. For more information on copyright, visit the website of the U.S. Copyright Office. Thank you for your cooperation.

Archived AONL Competencies

With the release of the AONL Nurse Leader Core Competencies, the following sets of AONL competencies will be archived beginning January 1, 2023, and considered historical.

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System CNE Competencies

The role of the system chief nurse executive (CNE) is a sub specialty of nursing leadership and requires its own set of competencies. Guided by the AONL Nurse Executive Competencies’ domains: communication and relationship building, knowledge of the healthcare environment, leadership, and professionalism, business skills the following competencies describe the skills, knowledge, and attributes of nurse leaders in the role of the system chief nurse executive. They are presented as information for both system nurse leaders and those who employ or work with them. They can be used as a guideline for job description development role expectations, evaluation criteria, and a self-assessment tool in the identification of possible areas for growth and career planning.

Download System CNE Competencies

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Post-Acute Care Competencies

Post-acute care nursing leadership is as much a specialty as any clinical specialty and requires proficiency and competent practice specific to the executive role. Health care systems will consolidate and become a predominant model of integrated care delivery. As such, enterprise-focused executive nursing leadership is vital to the success of community systems. Nursing practice should be aligned to the future state of nursing and a consolidated model for care delivery where the hospital will not be centric to delivery model and the health care continuum will be the focus.

Download Post-Acute Care Competencies

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Nurse Executive Competencies: Population Health

Health care systems increasingly are identifying strategies and interventions to improve the health of their patients and the communities they serve. Acute, ambulatory and post-acute care organizations are realizing the promotion of health and wellness outside their settings creates improved outcomes. This shift in care delivery focuses on partnerships across the health care settings and addressing specific health needs of particular populations.

Download Population Health Competencies