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Servant leadership is a trending notion in the modern organizational structure. It is becoming a trending topic due to its impact on the organization and individual workers. Characteristics of a servant leader attract the followers and enable the leader to positively impact followers’ lives. A servant leader listens to the followers as well as clients. A listening leader quickly understands the idea of a follower or another individual seeking to get the leader’s attention (Monroe, 2015). A servant leader is also empathetic and is not quick to judge. In this regard, in an organizational setting, a servant leader can easily attract employees to subscribe to his or her ideas because he or she is willing to conceptualize the issues while listening to the rest. These aspects make awareness a common characteristic of servant leadership. Servant leadership, the organization, understands everyone in the team with their weaknesses and strengths.
A servant leader is a steward who should be ardent in foresight. A servant leader should be prudent while at the same time paying adequate knowledge of what happens in the industry, its impact on the company he or she leads, and the specific concerns of individual workers concerning what happens around them. These elements are compelling because they necessitate the ability of a servant leader to look ahead. The leader should always remain informed concerning matters affecting his or her organization and the team he or she leads (Elliker, 2016). Consequently, a servant leader brings the rest of the team closer by identifying problems and developing relevant solutions to collaborate to solve them. The trendy culture of servant leadership in organizations is increasing in the modern organizational structures due to the arrangement it integrates into the workplace, whereby leaders learn to listen to their followers. This method of leadership is more of a hybrid approach to leadership because it allows leaders to adopt different leadership methodologies based on situations and projects on which their teams are working (Monroe, 2015). So, will servant leadership last, or is it a season that will pass soon? Servant leadership is a trendy idea today, but its impact on behavior will be long-lasting. People embrace servant leadership because it is attractive and creates a suitable working environment where leaders and employees interact well (Greenleaf, 1977). This will continue shaping the way leaders work across industries because there is a direct impact on the productivity of the employees, team cohesion, and the performance of teams and individuals. Therefore, servant leadership will become a constant idea in the industry because the kind of workers emerging in workplaces are millennials whose behavior and ideas differ. Therefore, the leaders should embrace servant leadership that will enable them to be flexible in listening and embracing the ideas of different team members (Mostafa & El-Motalib, 2019). The changes in the workplace in modern organizations necessitate a kind of leadership in which individuals listen and act on matters fast. The modern workplace requires stewards who show followers things by doing them and leading by example. Frederick Smith is a famous servant leader at the helm of FedEx as founder and CEO. This leader believes that when leaders prioritize their workers, they will give the best service possible, and profits will increase (FedEx Newsroom, 2016).
Cleveland Clinic was one of the premier health care institutions globally in 2008. the company launched an organizational development process focused on interrelated goals to enhance employee engagement and overall patient experience. However, these processes never occurred without challenges. The organization’s management needed to integrate a suitable approach towards identifying the problems and developing lasting solutions and strategies. The key to the company’s success in attaining the set goals was to emphasize and integrate the concept of servant leadership into the organizational culture.
To begin with, Cleveland clinic had a challenge of patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction was so low in the organization that patients never trusted that they could get the best quality health care services in the hospital when they visit it (Patrnchak, 2015). There is also a correlated problem of poor employee engagement in the hospital, which may be responsible for the low patient satisfaction. Based on the Gallup survey outcomes, the clinic ranked in the 44th percentile in employee engagement compared to the rest of the hospital systems. In 2008, the clinics’ ratio of employee engagement and disengagement was 2.57:1 (Patrnchak, 2015). This was very far from the ratio for world-class hospitals, which was 9.5:1 (Patrnchak, 2015). due to the low employee engagement, employee morale also dropped significantly. These problems led to the company’s underperformance compared to the rest of the world-class health care organizations. These challenges prompted additional considerations into the required changes to enable the company to regain its stability.
Strategies and Solutions Applied
Firstly, based on the survey, the organization’s management realized the impact of organizational culture on the workers’ performance. Employee engagement is about the emotional and intellectual connection between a worker in any job, the organization, the management, and colleagues (Patrnchak, 2015). This relationship also connects to the level of influence and the additional discretionary efforts of the worker towards his or her responsibilities in the workplace. Poor employee engagement means that the management was not working effectively to ensure that these relationships prevailed in the organization. As a result, there was a minimal commitment of workers and the management towards improving the working conditions.
The solution to these problems was the famous “people strategy”, which the management approved to make the hospital a great place to work and grow (Patrnchak, 2015). The strategy is intended to enhance employee engagement and ultimately enhance the patient experience in the hospital. This was the approach taken by the organization in a bid to enhance the level of patient satisfaction and improve employee engagement. Since the two problems correlate, it was necessary to begin by changing the perspectives of workers and the way they perform their duties while focusing on enhancing their commitment to their roles in the company. It had to begin from changing a few approaches to solving problems to a fully-fledged approach to servant leadership based on Zargar, Sousan, and Farmanesh (2019).
The leaders needed to create a culture of engagement (Patrnchak, 2015). The culture would enable the workers to approach their leaders easily and communicate their concerns to enable their leaders to listen. There were various matters which the employees should understand concerning the company. These assumptions would guide the implementation of the people’s strategy for the company to begin engaging workers in ways that can enhance customer satisfaction.
Employees would want to work in an environment where their leaders can respect them and engage them in all matters concerning the organization’s running (Elliker, 2016). Engaging workers concerns the ability of leaders to ask their workers questions and enquire issues concerning how certain processes should occur, how they should go about some matters in the organization, and how they can help address arising issues (Hewitt & La Grange, 2017). These will show workers that leaders respect their views and ideas on the company. They also indicate that leaders care about them as crucial company members responsible for their successes.
Additionally, workers expected to see a strong connection between their work and the company’s mission. Since the mission is important to the leaders, just like the workers, the employees would appreciate their work when they understand that it fully connects to the organization’s mission. Achievement of that mission to whichever degree will enable them to appreciate and feel that their efforts are bearing fruits (Elliker, 2016). Nonetheless, the works expect an organization to provide personal and professional development opportunities. Those opportunities can empower workers individually or in groups to advance their abilities and learn to solve even bigger problems. Paving the way for more learning opportunities where workers can develop more experience in their respective positions can enhance their ability to handle complex issues.
The people strategy, a servant-leadership process, was the best solution to the Cleveland clinic’s challenges. The strategy is comprehensive enough to cover the needs of workers and their issues regarding the relationship among themselves and with their leaders (Bavik, 2020). The servant leadership approach would solve the problems of low workers’ morale and the lack of employee engagement as well as the issues of customers satisfaction because workers can communicate closely with the leader. Servant leaders can reason with workers and understand their concerns to nurture a positive attitude towards their responsibilities.
Bavik, A. (2020). A systematic review of the servant leadership literature in management and hospitality. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.
Elliker, J. (2016). Understanding ontological conflict between servant leadership and organizations. Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice, 3(2), 72-89.
FedEx Newsroom. (2016, April 7). FedEx attributes success to people-first philosophy. https://newsroom.fedex.com/newsroom/fedex-attributes-success-people-first-philosophy/
Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). The servant as leader.Paulist Press, 1-28
Hewitt, L. M., & La Grange, F. (2017). Servant as a leader: Critical requirements for the appointment and training of retirement fund trustees. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 15(1), 1-12.
Monroe, Kevin. (Host). (2015). Bach elder, C. (Guest). Servant leadership as a catalyst for culture change and superior performance [Audio podcast]. The Greenleaf Center. Soundcloud. https://soundcloud.com/greenleafcenter/sls-cherylbachelder-120413
Mostafa, A. M. S., & El-Motalib, E. A. A. (2019). Servant leadership, leader-member exchange and proactive behavior in the public health sector. Public Personnel Management, 48(3), 309-324.
Patrnchak, J. M. (2015). Implementing servant leadership at Cleveland clinic: A case study in organizational change. Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice, 2(1), 36-48.
Zargar, P., Sousan, A., & Farmanesh, P. (2019). Does trust in a leader mediate the servant leadership style–job satisfaction relationship?. Management Science Letters, 9(13), 2253-2268.