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Servant Leadership: Seven Distinct Characteristics


The core principle of servant leadership is based on the idea to serve other people and to focus on the well-being and growth of the leader’s followers. The preceptor who guided my job practicum experience at the New York Methodist Hospital embodied the key aspects of servant leadership. She demonstrated that a servant leader should empower the employees for more efficient and successful performance, and nurture the feeling of responsibility for their work. This concept is the combination of philosophy, a number of leadership practices, as well as leadership qualities. The new understanding of servant leadership, defined by Darryl DelHousaye and Bobby Brewer, certainly influenced my perception of being a health care provider and my leadership behavior.

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Considering the seven distinct characteristics of a servant leader, being a health care provider suggests prioritizing the needs of the followers rather than maintaining personal power. It is the first and most crucial characteristic of servant leadership. Furthermore, this type of leadership is inherently linked with the mission of the healthcare facilities. Hanse, Harlin, Jarebrant, Ulin & Winkel (2015) identify three main reasons for such a linkage, including “focus on the strength of the team, developing trust, and serving the needs of patients” (p. 229). The second characteristic of being a servant leader implies transferring a significant part of personal authority to the followers. This promotes the team of colleagues to make their own decisions in a broad spectrum of areas. Being a healthcare provider is always about achieving coherent teamwork and knowledge interchanging in order to address the needs of the patients.

It is crucial to aim at the leading position in the work environment to provide the best quality care by a team of skilled professionals. Promoting a servant-leader culture in the healthcare setting engages interpersonal interaction and ensures strong relationships and trust between leaders and their teams. Moreover, a leader should pursue the growth of the subordinates to their fullest potential and admit that he or she is responsible for the ones they lead. I believe that these critical aspects might actualize the servant leadership principles in a leadership role within nursing practice. If I want to become a leader in the field of my occupation, I should focus on leading with the help of influence and persuasion. There is no place for fierceness or punishments for not following the leader’s instructions. A leader in nursing proves his leading position and authority by pursuing professional growth and adhering to ethical behavior.


With regard to the last characteristics of servant leadership, it is vital to recognize the limitations of your authority as a leader and care for the poor and deprived. These final notions equate a servant leader with his followers and with those, to which he serves. In my opinion, this emphasizes that a leader in nursing does not obtain a privileged position but is instead recognized as part of the work team that leads to meeting the basic patient needs. According to Hanse et al. (2015), servant leadership involves efficient behaviors that also “contribute to strong trust and empowerment” in both the medical personnel team relationships and the patient relationship (p. 232). Based on my mentor’s performance, the core elements of servant leadership include leading through vision, energy, support, and guidance, as well as staying devoted to the team and sharing personal experience. However, the development of trust between the care providers and patients is of the utmost importance within the healthcare environment.


Hanse, J. J., Harlin, U., Jarebrant, C., Ulin, K., & Winkel, J. (2015). The impact of servant leadership dimensions on leader-member exchange among health care professionals. Journal of Nursing Management, 24(2), 228–234.

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