by Carl Gustafson
Senior Consulting Director

To enhance the efficiency, performance, effectiveness and overall success of an organization, it’s essential for associates to possess the relevant skills and knowledge required to drive the organization forward.

Top-performing organizations implement various methods to improve the skills of their workforce. They may hold seminars or workshops, send employees to conferences, host quarterly town halls or have internal training sessions led by the human resources team, but all of these strategies will fall short of the mark without the right leader and leadership style.

There are many types of leadership styles: democratic, autocratic, pacesetter, visionary, transactional and servant. Whatever the style, is a given that they must inspire staff in order to affect change and drive results. One leadership approach I’ve found to be highly effective is the servant leadership model first articulated by Robert K. Greenleaf.

The benefits of the servant-leader model

While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by the one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. The servant-leader views him- or herself as a servant to the organization first, shares power and seeks to help others within the organization develop and perform at the highest level possible, which delivers three important benefits to the organization.

1. Professional development of staff. In a servant-leadership approach, the leader shares power by empowering associates to make decisions, which increases their sense of significance and appreciation within the work place. This increases their opportunities to learn and motivates them to deliver measurable results.

2. Increased employee engagement toward meeting business goals. When associates see their leaders investing time and money on their development, they will work harder for the benefit of the corporation. It is evident that when your associates learn new skills, their performance increases. In turn their morale is boosted and the organization is able to improve its productivity and efficiency.

3. Reduced employee turnover. The cost of frequent turnover is significant for organizations and extremely disruptive to workflow. And in today’s job market, high-performing employees have options and will leave a dysfunctional work environment. The coaching and mentoring aspects of servant leadership builds loyalty and trust for employees in their leaders and the organization.

Leaders have choices when it comes to their leadership style. Utilizing the servant-leader model will show that you truly care about your employees and will assist in building an environment that embraces and encourages professional development. They will feel rewarded, recognized, appreciated and that will yield longer retention periods and higher performance for your organization.

About the author. In his role as senior consulting director on the supply chain operations advisory team at Vizient, Carl Gustafson uses his more than 20 years of health care industry experience to provide significant process improvement and expense reduction opportunities to Vizient member health care organizations. His focus on applying lean principles has assisted members in achieving significant cost savings and measurable positive outcomes. His expertise in cost savings initiatives, mentoring, contract management, logistics, inventory management, value analysis, and strategic sourcing helps guide organizations to reach their full cost containment potential.

Published: October 7, 2019