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To identify and report on the relative importance of factors influencing nurse managers' intentions to stay in or leave their current position.Effective nurse managers play an important role in staff nurse retention and in the quality of patient care. The advancing age of nurse managers, multiple job opportunities within nursing and the generally negative perceptions of the manager role can contribute to difficulties in retaining nurse managers.Ninety-five Canadian nurse managers participated in a web survey. Respondents rated the importance of factors related to their intent to leave or stay in their current position for another 2 years. Descriptive, t-test and mancova statistics were used to assess differences between managers intending to stay or leave.For managers intending to leave (n = 28), the most important factors were work overload, inability to ensure quality patient care, insufficient resources, and lack of empowerment and recognition. Managers intending to leave reported significantly lower job satisfaction, perceptions of their supervisor's resonant leadership and higher burnout levels.Organisations wishing to retain existing nurse managers and to attract front-line staff into leadership positions must create and foster an environment that supports nurse managers.