Healthcare is continually evolving into a system built on the concepts of primary care, health promotion, and community-based care. Although hospitals still retain their position as the pillars of the healthcare system, the same is not always true for the resulting care patients receive. The current transformation in the healthcare system calls for the adoption of new approaches to practice including new and current styles of leadership. Just like in any other field, strong leadership is the greatest determinant of success and achievement of goals in an organization. Hence, for nursing, adoption of effective forms of leadership is critical in raising the bar in service and the resulting level of care provided.
As I reflect on my future nursing career and study the different styles of leadership, I am more aware than ever that more than one style of leadership is needed to effectively lead in different situations, however, the leadership style that appeals to me and fits my personality and values best is Servant leadership. I am an advocate of the Golden Rule; treat others as you want to be treated and I value strong relationships and the power of positivity. Trust and compassion are important to me and I feel these things are critical in the nursing profession, both in our relationships with co-workers and patients alike.
Servant leadership describes a style of leadership geared towards build trusting relationships among team mates by being an active listener, facilitating engagement, and caring for his or her fellow workers’ personal development and needs. The Servant nurse leader leads by example, putting others needs first. This creates an atmosphere of giving, trusting, compassion, unity and empowerment. Servant leadership fosters a healthy work environment.
I see the leadership style of a ‘servant’ as what nursing is all about; caring for others, helping with other’s needs, forming relationships, and building others up. The servant nurse leader displays acceptance, awareness, foresight, and a commitment to building community within the organization. (AANAC) Based on the above idea, quality of care improves when those that are providing care are in an environment that is supportive and caring.
Now that I have identified my chosen leadership style, how do I become a Servant leader once I am out and working in my nursing role? Fahlberg & Toomey (2016) explain the five key practices for servant leaders. The first is developing a vision for a current need that inspires others and motivates them to follow and engage. For example, in my nursing practice I could anticipate that at times nurses will feel overwhelmed and frantically try to keep up which may compromise the level of care they provide. My vision for this would be one of support and relief where the nurse would feel comfortable coming to the team and the team would respond willingly, helping each other be successful and care be optimized.
Next, Fahlberg & Toomey 2016 discuss being thoughtfully present with others by listening and learning of their concerns, by having an open mind and by investing in other’s strengths, abilities and individual growth. Servant leadership is about serving others and the relationships formed which are strengthened by being empathetic, promoting collaboration and advocating for others (Fahlberg & Toomey, 2016).
This, to me, means that we put power aside as a leader and we lead because we care and want to make a difference, not for prestige. We want to right the wrongs, make things better, and we want to inspire others to do the same. Doing the right thing involves caring for the person as an individual, listening, understanding their challenges, and even advocating for solutions to their problems (Marquid& Huston, 2000).
What I believe is that to be the best nurse and a leader, one has to be selfless by devoting everything in the disposal to help others. That also goes without question that the power of positivity and teamwork cannot be overlooked. We allow others to have a voice as servant leaders. We allow them to practice being a leader themselves and we reassure our teammates that we have their back; providing support and encouragement along the way.
In the article, Servant Leadership can save the health care profession, Belsky (2016) points out that the burnout rate for nurses is significantly affected by nursing leadership. Several changes need to take place within the healthcare industry and strong leadership is critical to fixing some of the main issues. Belsky (2016) also explains that nurse job satisfaction directly correlates to quality of care and patient satisfaction and outcomes, and that servant leadership has been proven to have considerably favorable impacts on nurse’s psychological well-being, job attitude, job performance, and proves to decrease workplace deviance (Belsky, 2016). “Servant leadership may be the best model for healthcare organizations because it focuses on the strength of the team, developing trust and serving the needs of the patients.” (Belsky, 2016).
The idea of serving others first is the mainframe of servant leadership. To be a servant nurse leader will take my attention, time, humility and will require me to reflect on my behavior and take care that I have the right attitude. As a servant nurse leader I will learn to invest in others, not for power or prestige, but because it’s the right thing to do. Adopting this form of leadership in my practice will allow me to make a difference not only in the lives of the patients my team cares for, but the lives of the nurses and the organization we stand for.
- Belsky, J. (2016). Servant leadership can save the health care profession.
- Marquid, B., & Huston, C. (2000). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing. Edition, 3, 370-378.
- Fahlberg, B., & Toomey, R. (2016). Servant leadership: A model for emerging nurse leaders. Nursing2016, 46(10), 49-52.