Servant leadership in nursing practice involves the engagement of leaders with nursing staff who serve the organization. There are seven characteristics of servant leadership that affect nursing culture. They are empathy, influence, respect, humility, courage, self-awareness and democracy.
Leadership is the ability to “influence others to understand and agree about what needs to be done in order to achieve the mission and objectives established for the organization and facilitate the individual and collective contributions of others to achieve the desired results” (Longest & Darr, 2009)
Great leaders are able to persuade their followers to accept their advice, suggestions or recommendations. The ability to convince others affects organizational performance. Nursing leaders” support, encourage, empower and assist others in meeting organizational goals” (Moore, 2012). In addition, leaders envision and execute. (nursing leadership)
Philosophy of Servant Leadership In Nursing Practice
Leaders create a vision and develop strategies to achieve it. Leaders envision long term goals and develop initiatives to make the organization and its people better. There are several types of leadership, but I believe that servant leadership describes my leadership philosophy.
Servant Leadership in nursing practice is about “a relationship-oriented leadership” and Greenleaf introduced the principle in 1970. Furthermore, Servant leadership is an ethical leadership philosophy with a focus on followers.
According to Greenleaf, the optimal goal of servant leadership is the well-being of the followers: “Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous” (Gunnarsdóttir, 2014). Thus, It is the theory of leading by example. Leaders are born to lead. What is the role of nurse leaders? Nurse leaders play important roles in healthcare because they influence the decision-making process.
Characteristics of Servant Leadership In Nursing Practice
Some of the characteristics of servant leadership are empathy, influence, respect, humility, courage, self-awareness and democracy. As a nurse leader, I believe in mutual respect and staff involvement to attain maximum outcomes and performance.
My philosophy is based on individual development and well-being to become dedicated followers. I also notice that the nursing staff’s involvement promotes compliance and motivation in accomplishing the organization’s goals and objectives.
Empathy: This is when the leader acknowledges followers’ weaknesses and identifies a mechanism to overcome the challenges.
Influence: The leader leads by example and provides guidance to followers.
Respect: The leader respectfully guides staff and respects their opinions.
Humility: The leader chooses to remain humbled by serving the followers while leading.
Courage: The leader demonstrates strength and resilience to overcome challenges.
Self-awareness: The leader is aware of personal weaknesses while guiding others.
Democracy: The leader promotes the implementation of standard protocol based on team members’ feedback. All members agree to follow established standards to avoid consequences.
As a nurse leader, you should incorporate staff in decision making, conduct open discussion and schedule meetings to promote staff participation in problem-solving. In addition, nurse leaders should encourage staff to participate in different committee meetings to promote self-development.
Nurse leaders should value their staff and should understand that they are the cornerstones of the organization. The behavior validates the commitment of servant leadership in nursing practice. Lastly, nurse leaders should prioritize the positive work culture and high morale to promote staff satisfaction and a healthy work environment.
Strength and Weakness of Servant Leadership In Nursing Practice
There are several positive aspects of servant leadership in nursing practice. For example, nurse leaders can demonstrate strength by putting service to others before self-interest. Leaders should involve team members in decision making. Nurse leaders are responsible for allocating resources to facilitate project completion.
Servant leadership in nursing practice requires leaders to stay out of the limelight and to allow a team to accept credit for results. Besides, This approach will promote individual and team confidence. Lastly, These traits will enable nurse leaders to influence and to persuade others.
Nurse leaders should support the idea of “deploying yourself “ which really encourages servant leaders to “letting the self-emerge” by overcoming fears. This method enables leaders to experience self without reservation and to embrace uncertainty.
This strategy promotes leaders to expose their true selves and to detach themselves from their academia. This will build leadership rapport and promote trust in the leader and promote teamwork across the organization. I must admit that one of my weaknesses is that I am overly passionate about the end results.
This characteristic often interferes with decision making and thought process. For example, nurses might set standards too high. Therefore, others may perceive leadership dedication to achievement or accomplishment as a threat. Furthermore, People often refer to servant leadership theory as weak because of the involvement of staff in problem-solving.
Implications For Nurses
Servant leadership philosophy promotes an individual-centered approach to empower and influence others. I believe this philosophy will reduce or eliminate a sense of beleaguering in the workplace while promoting pride and accomplishment. For example, I think that working in a team often yields better outcomes. However, it is sometimes difficult to identify individual performance when working in a group.
I also understand that assigning tasks to a group of nurses will require monitoring to prevent members from dispelling. This leadership model enables nurse leaders to create a workgroup to work on specific nursing projects. Group and committee members often need to spend time away from work to attend meetings and to complete assigned tasks. Therefore, leaders should grant nurses additional time to complete collateral duties.
You should ensure that servant leadership philosophy does not interfere with organizational’s values. For instance, some employees may perceive democracy as “laissez-faire” related to active staff involvement in decision making. Team members may believe that they have a stronger influence in decision making because of their involvement in the process.
Nurse leaders should carefully elaborate on the philosophy and purpose of servant leadership to stakeholders to prevent role confusion. After all, the philosophy is based on the theory of adhocracy developed by Mintzberg’s. In the operating adhocracy, operations and administration collaborate to maximize organizational performance. The nursing evolution will enable nurses to assume leadership roles across all healthcare settings.
Organizations rely on staff to represent them well in or outside the workplace. They expect staff to promote organizational culture and values in their behaviors. They encourage positive behaviors and professional interactions with clients. Therefore, organizations ought to provide staff with training tools to meet established standards. Leaders are very influential individuals with great passion and vision for their job. They are committed to success and results.
Leaders’ultimate objective is to achieve specific goals even through adversity and to support others in meeting those goals. It is very important for leaders to learn to manage themselves, their network and resources to succeed. They must establish boundaries between themselves and their subordinates. Servant leadership is a great leadership philosophy because it promotes an individual-centered environment which often leads to personal satisfaction.
Servant leaders may be perceived as weak and not powerful. People cannot follow weak leaders because, in times of hardship, they look up to their leaders for guidance. I do not believe in controlling, intimidating and bullying others to gain their trust. However, I believe in building professional rapport and relationships with peers to promote trust and confidence. Finally, servant leadership exemplifies the philosophy of empathy and caring while leading.
Nurse Sophie has been a registered nurse for over a decade. I have a Master's degree in nursing, and my clinical experiences include staff nurse, clinical nurse supervisor, and manager, and most recently, nurse consultant in Patient Safety and legal nursing. I was always passionate about system operations and practice standards.
I have completed over 2000 hours of medical chart reviews. I am an expert in clinical investigations, and I also develop event timelines. I can assist the legal team with the Discovery process: Deposition, Interrogatories questionnaire, event timelines, locate expert witnesses, and more. I provide and formulate clinical opinions based on the investigative summary.
Nurse Sophie, MSN, RN, LNC
Legal Nurse Consultant
Patient Safety Specialist
Email: [email protected]