Leadership in the nursing profession has gained much attention over the previous decade. However, there is a paucity of literature examining the context of leadership within the clinical preceptor/undergraduate nursing student relationship and the relevance of this to the clinical learning environment. Globally, the nursing profession is experiencing a climbing attrition rate, an accelerating ageing workforce and a trend toward part-time employment. Practical experience is based upon a preceptored model of supervision creating a potential for inconsistencies for student supervision and assessment within this mode of education. This work offers a unique insight into the factors that impact upon students practical experiences through the supervisory relationships experienced in practice. Gaining insight into the leadership qualities that students perceive as desirable to enhance the practical experience is vital with the consideration that the practical experience is viewed as the ‘make or break'' for many students and influences retention in undergraduate education and within the profession post registration.