AIMS: This paper compares the perceptions of nurse managers and nurses about self-leadership of professional nurses while taking ownership of capacity building during unit management. BACKGROUND: The Nursing Strategy for South Africa states that the competency of nurses is dependent upon factors that lead to capacity building. METHOD: A quantitative design was followed by conducting a survey. The target population included nurse managers and professional nurses working at an academic public hospital in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. RESULTS: The ﬁndings indicate shortcomings in relation to advising professional nurses about self-direction while taking ownership of their daily pressures and stresses associated with unit management. CONCLUSION: Professional nurses should develop their conﬁdence by focusing on their self-leadership strengths when managing a unit. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSE MANAGERS: Recommendations are made to promote selfleadership while taking ownership of nurses during capacity building of unit management.