Whether you are a medical practice manager or physician, "servant leadership" is about letting your spotlight shine on those around you
We’ve all had bad bosses. There are lots of different types - the micromanager, the workaholic, the bully - but they all have something in common: They care more about themselves than the people they lead.
Over my 17 years at CompHealth, I’ve had the chance to learn from some of the best bosses around - bosses who take the exact opposite approach to leadership. Rather than put themselves on a pedestal, they do whatever they can to elevate their employees. This type of “servant leadership” - a term coined Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s - has completely changed how I approach my role as a leader.
We all know that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. When it comes to hanging onto your best employees, servant leadership is crucial.
Here’s a quick look at three key principles of servant leadership and how you can make them part of your leadership style:
1. HumilityShare the spotlight: Humble leaders know to deflect praise to those who played roles in the achievements they’ve lead. Every time you share credit for successes, you reinforce that you value your team and the work they do.
Admit when you’re not right: We all have room to improve. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it. Not only will your team appreciate your honesty, but they’ll feel more comfortable approaching you.
Give praise: Never miss a chance to promote those around you. Take time to acknowledge their accomplishments privately and publicly.
Accept feedback: A self-aware leader listens and responds to feedback. If you’re not receiving feedback, it’s probably time to figure out why your people don’t feel comfortable giving it.
Self-reflection: Often, employees won’t share honest opinions if they feel like the boss is “always right.” Regularly step back and think about how you may have impacted a disagreement, argument, or misunderstanding.
Public awareness: Self-aware leaders understand that people are watching their every move. Take stock of how others may perceive your personality, skills, words, and actions.
Enter their world: Empathy is about moving outside of your own biases and imagining what it’s like to be in another’s shoes. Empathetic leaders take a personal interest in the things that inspire and prompt others to achieve amazing results.
Encourage uniqueness: Servant leaders employ empathy to show their people they accept them for who they are. Your team should never have to earn your acceptance - empathy comes free of charge.
Be courteous: It’s a simple rule that is often overlooked. Share a genuine smile. Don’t interrupt. Be fully present by not allowing yourself to be distracted by your watch, your phone, your e-mail, or anything else. Nothing’s worse than talking to someone who acts uninterested.
When “bosses” become “leaders”
Whether you’re a running a small practice or leading an entire health system, people are looking up to you. Hopefully, what they see is not just another boss, but a leader. If you do it right - focusing more attention on their success than your own - you’ll find that they’re willing to follow.