In an era when patient safety and quality of care are a daily concern for health care professionals, it is important for nurse managers and other clinical leaders to have a repertoire of skills and interventions that can be used to motivate and engage clinical teams in risk assessment and continuous quality improvement at the level of patient care delivery. This paper describes how a cohort of clinical leaders who were undertaking a leadership development program used a relatively simple, patient-focused intervention called the 'observation of care' to help focus the clinical team's attention on areas for improvement within the clinical setting. The main quality and safety themes arising out of the observations that were undertaken by the Clinical Leaders (CLs) were related to the environment, occupational health and safety, communication and team function, clinical practice and patient care. The observations of care also provided the CLs with many opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate exemplary practice as it was observed as a means of enhancing the development of a quality and safety culture within the clinical setting. The 'observation of care' intervention can be used by Clinical Leader's to engage and motivate clinical teams to focus on continuously improving the safety and quality of their own work environment and the care delivered to patients within that environment.