The volunteer role that I took on has been extremely pivotal in my comprehension of what servant leadership entails, especially within my chosen career path. This is not to say that other vocations are not equally as valuable, but it is imperative, for this work , to understand that when nurses and other medical personnel fail to deliver what is expected of them, the repercussions can be significantly higher and more severe when compared with other professions.
My volunteer experience as a nurse leader has taught me that it is vital to have positive morale in the workplace. For instance, when one of my colleagues felt distraught after losing one of her patients, it became increasingly difficult for her to cater to the needs of the other patients. As a result of my acquaintance’s demoralization, some of the outcomes of the patients were negatively affected (Jackson, 2008). Nonetheless, my leadership skills enabled me to provide advice and moral support for my colleague who was then able to resume her duty of care to the rest of her patients. On the other hand, the volunteer opportunity educated me on the importance of funding for this particular facility. As mentioned in previous works, the veteran’s affairs hospital relies on government funding for most of its operations. During my volunteership there a delay of the financing caused significant problems in the organization’s processes. While patient lives were not lost, it made work impractical subsequently affecting the outcome of some patients. Because the issue took almost three days to resolve, I had to step up as a nurse leader and propose potentially viable solutions to the array of problems that the organization was facing (Shirin, 2015). I participated in everything from motivating my colleagues, demarcation of responsibilities as well as setting up a proper channel of communication to ease the information relay process.
We can do it today.
Greenleaf, in his work, conveyed several leadership principles which have come to be regarded as the pillars of servant leadership. While I may not have utilized all of them, there are several principles that I had to apply on a daily basis. For instance, providing support to my team, or fostering a nurturing spirit as other pundits have described it, is among the principles that I had to utilize every day during the entirety of my time as a volunteer. Due to the strenuous working environment, it was commonplace for some of the staff to break down emotionally. Under such circumstances I had to provide moral and professional support to my fellow nurses to help them cope better with the pressures of the profession (Shirin, 2015). For example, after understanding that psychological breakdown is especially typical in my line of work, I made it a routine to confer with my colleagues every day and inquire about their social life as well as how they felt about their work and the responsibilities. Besides, I would ensure that the concerns, especially the professional issues, the staff communicated were addressed appropriately. While not all my attempts were successful, I can assert that I also utilized community development in executing my duties as a volunteer nurse leader. For example, I ensured that the organizational policy was in congruence with the needs of the immediate community by constantly communicating with the patients who came from it. Through this process, I managed to understand that a majority of the patients failed to seek early treatment due to lack of adequate information. As a result, I initiated several educational clinics that were successful in promoting positive medical outcome for the patients (Sipe & Frick 2015).
Excerpts from biblical scriptures as well as the works of Greenleaf suggest that giving away power often has the result of creating power (Shirin, 2015). In my experience as a servant leader at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital, it was not my immediate intention to take up a leadership position. Notably, the role of nurse leader is more of a social title at the institution as opposed to a professionally recognized title (Roberts, 2015). Having stated that, I had identified several problems with the systems at the organization such as communication breakdown or miscommunication. Moreover, I had also noted that the staff was somewhat mismanaged which led to some erroneous decision making as well as workplace conflicts. Therefore, I embarked on improving the communication process within the establishments in an attempt to mitigate the problems arising from the lack of adequate communication means. By offering to do this, I found nurses coming to me with inquiries concerning what information should be relayed to whom. Eventually, I discovered that nurses preferred to seek my opinion concerning all communication issues at work and in addition, they invited me to listen to their concerns about both their professional and private lives. Therefore, I have to concur with Greenleaf’s suggestions that it is through giving away the power that we gain it.
Greenleaf asserted that it was extremely imperative that servant leaders, through their leadership, create a culture of change which will ultimately serve to promote the greater good. In my particular experience as a servant leader at the institution, this assertion is verifiable. As mentioned in the paragraph above I mainly used my position as a volunteer to improve the communication mechanism amongst the hospital’s staff. While it was difficult in the beginning, the nurses and other staff recognized the importance of maintaining a system of support for the nurses and ensuring that there is clear communication between all the staff and the management personnel. First and foremost, they recognized that a lack in such structures not only impacted the employees but the patients as well (Chatbury et al., 2011). Upon realizing the direct benefits to the patients, the staff promptly established informal communication channels that would last long after I had left my service at the organization. On the other hand, the team also developed a staff support body that would ensure that the professional needs of the staff are fulfilled. When carefully analyzed, these measures evolved as a consequence of my actions as a nurse leader. Therefore it would be correct to insist that because of my utilization of servant leadership that positive changes were made within the organization. Most importantly, the measures installed have significantly developed the work ethic and job satisfaction of the staff in addition to improving the quality of care for the patients, which can be considered as the most significant good (Shirin, 2015).
The opportunity to volunteer as a nurse leader has given me a lot of personal insight especially concerning my leadership skills as well as my leadership style. First and foremost I have learned that I am a very active listener. As stated by Greenleaf, it is important that a servant leader takes time to listen. Greenleaf holds that it is only through listening that a leader may fully comprehend the needs of his team and the community (Liden et al., 2014). Therefore, I made an effort to enquire what the personnel thought would greatly improve the working conditions. Similar approaches are what led me to develop community outreach programs for community building. Another thing I have learned is that I can be very patient and accommodating which is a preference for servant leaders. It is because of this trait that I have managed to handle instances of significant conflict at the organization. Having established this, I have found that my leadership style is more in agreement with the laissez-faire approach which is non-authoritarian and indirect (Sendjaya, 2016).
The principles I have learned from the coursework as well as my experience as a servant leader that Greenleaf’s laws are applicable in a variety of situations whether it is on a personal level or within an organization. When serving in a professional capacity, I will use the principles to first build the community surrounding the institution because of the value of community support (Parris & Peachey, 2013). Second, I will also utilize the principles to develop the skills of my team within the workplace further so that they can be in a position to advance themselves both personally and professionally. Concerning my personal use of these principles, I will use the principles of listening and empathy to further improve my interactions with people.
- Chatbury, A., Beaty, D., & Kriek, H. S. (2011). Servant leadership, trust and implications for the. South African Journal of Business Management, 42(4), 57-61
- Jackson, D. (2008). Servant leadership in nursing: a framework for developing sustainable research capacity in nursing. Collegian, 15(1), 27-33.
- Liden, R. C., Wayne, S. J., Liao, C., & Meuser, J. D. (2014). Servant leadership and serving culture: Influence on individual and unit performance. Academy of Management Journal, 57(5), 1434-1452.
- Parris, D. L., & Peachey, J. W. (2013). A systematic literature review of servant leadership theory in organizational contexts. Journal of business ethics, 113(3), 377-393.
- Roberts, G. (2015). Christian scripture and human resource management: Building a path to Servant leadership through faith. Springer.
- Sendjaya, S. (2016). Personal and organizational excellence through servant leadership. Springer International.
- Shirin, A. V. (2015). Is Servant Leadership Inherently Christian?. Journal of Religion and Business Ethics, 3(1).
- Sipe, J. W., & Frick, D. M. (2015). Seven pillars of servant leadership: Practicing the wisdom of leading by serving. Paulist Press.