Becoming a Servant Leader – Health System Example

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"Becoming a Servant Leader" is a wonderful example of a paper on the health system. The interaction and relationship between leaders and followers highly influence the outcomes realized subject to the goals and objectives being pursued. Both leaders and followers have to understand the basis of their collaboration in order to remain committed to their respective prospects. Leadership is observed and practiced in diverse and dynamic ways, and the results of the underlying processes reflect the point of concern between leaders and the people they lead. Essentially, this can be done at an individual or organizational level. At the height of diverse and dynamic leadership practices stands servant leadership.

Servant leadership is a style of leadership that allows leaders and followers to work hand in hand with one another, where leaders essentially lead their followers through empowerment and promotion of follower creativity and innovativeness (Wallace, 2011). In other words, this is a more decentralized form of leadership that allows followers to play an active leadership role, just like their leader. Leaders allow the people they lead to make critical decisions that relate to vital matters at hand.

Notably, servant-leaders work in the best interest of the people they lead, thus countering leaders’ dominance over followers as advocated for by Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990) (Spears, 2010). Given that the concept of leadership is intensive and extensive, it is important to highlight a different aspect of leadership; democratic leadership. Democratic leadership encompasses sharing of roles, duties, and responsibilities with an employee (s), group members, or teams (Winkler, 2009). The leader allows other parties to make fundamental decisions relative to the environment within which the interaction is taking place.

Active participation of employees, group members, or teams in decision making and problem-solving define the dynamics of democratic leadership. However, the leader remains the ultimate decision-maker with or without the involvement of followers. Servant and democratic leadership styles function on relatively the same ground. The basis of operation adopted by both leaders and followers foster collaborative efforts among participants. The leader gets an opportunity to develop the interests of the followers. In other words, both leadership styles encompass forms of interactions and relations that allow leaders to motivate, encourage, empower, mentor, coach, and supervise their followers.

Also, active engagement of followers in matters of decision making and problem-solving are observed. On the other hand, the two leadership styles have their points of difference. While servant leadership is centrally focused on letting followers grow and develop at a personal level, democratic leadership does not necessarily pursue this objective. Rather, it gives the followers a chance to participate in leadership, without necessarily seeking to uphold their insights. This means that the leader can still exhibit dominance over followers when it comes to decision making and problem-solving.

Notably, servant leadership presents the leader not as a party that possesses power and authority, but a party that stands for the interests of the followers. This is not necessarily so in democratic leadership. Considering the insights of other people on matters of servant leadership is important. Spears (2010) explore servant leadership in the light of personality and character. Specifically, Spears makes a consideration of the characteristics and traits that define an effective servant leader. Further highlights are made in relation to the fact that servant leaders should exhibit care and concern about the welfare of the people they lead.

A special reference to the nursing practice is made relative to caring leaders. Listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community are the characteristics of a servant leader (Spears, 2010). On the other hand, Barbuto and Wheeler (2007) trace the individual and organizational practices that constitute servant leadership. They argue that this style of leadership can grow and develop over time and that it is highly influenced by the set of skills an individual possesses.

Most importantly, Barbuto and Wheeler highlight that servant leadership can be learned and subsequently improved as time goes by. This qualifies nursing practice as a field that benefits from servant leadership. Notably, the attributes of a servant leader are similar to those outlined by Spears. The conclusions drawn by the two articles were more oriented towards the practice of servant leadership. They presented insights into the growth and development of this leadership style. Moreover, the two articles essentially focused on the personality and character of a servant leader.

Most importantly, the articles evaluated the applicability of servant leadership at the individual and organizational level by embedding these aspects in the characteristics exhibited by servant leaders. In the nursing practice, these conclusions apply to health care service delivery directed towards patients/clients. Servant leadership in nursing could be demonstrated through therapeutic communication and therapeutic relationships. The nurse leader would interact and relate with the patient/client in an efficient and effective way, suitable for the patient/client’ s needs and interests. The ultimate concern is to foster an environment within which the patient/client feels taken care of over and above health care provision.

This encompasses nurse-patient communication, interaction, relationship, and point of caregiving. The two articles considered in this paper enhanced my perception of nurse leadership. They fundamentally instill knowledge relative to the diverse and dynamic use, application, and practice of servant leadership. Notably, the central focus on the followers makes it possible for the leader to promote the welfare of the people being led. This is integral to the disadvantaged population in society. The articles have served an informative purpose in my nurse leadership perception. In general, my perception of leadership has been diversified.

Based on the servant leadership discussion, I think I am yet to become a servant leader. My self-assessment presents me as a transformational leader. Due to the close relationship between transformational and servant leadership, I would want to be a servant leader. To ensure that I successfully become a servant leader I will align my transformational skills with the characteristics of a servant leader. Subsequently, I will work on the emerging variations or gaps, thus allowing myself to learn what it takes to become a servant leader.


Barbuto, J. E. & Wheeler, D. W. (2007). Becoming a Servant Leader: Do You Have What It Takes? University of Nebraska: NebGuide.

Spears, L. C. (2010). “Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders”. The Journal of Virtues & Leadership, Vol. 1 Iss. 1, 2010, 25-30.

Wallace, R. (2011). Servant Leadership: Leaving a Legacy. New York: R&L Education.

Winkler, I. (2009). Contemporary Leadership Theories. New York: Springer.

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