WHY Fronts: Servant Leadership

Published: 26 April 2017 Ezine

Author: Chris Woodgate, ISAS Officer 

I am writing this as a result of reading the Linkedin article by Iris X1; it resonated with me and, like the Synergy News Why Fronts piece in the May issue, I found myself inspired.

Many of us as leaders in our profession started out by wanting to help others, making a difference, putting the needs of others before our own. In the ‘olden days’ it would have been called a vocational calling.

We don’t hear that much nowadays, probably because life has moved on and subtle cultural changes have occurred moving on with generation X and Y. I hate to admit it but I am not as young as I used to be.

But does that mean I leave my values behind? Do I stop caring? Do I let cynicism win and stop showing how a servant approach can make a difference to those starting out in Radiography now?

Robert K. Greenleaf (the person who coined the term 'service leadership') states: "The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead." 

For those of you who have studied leadership either through the Leadership Academy, or other academic institution will recognise servant leadership as one of the recognised leadership styles, with I am sure examples of those from history who demonstrated this style of leadership (I will leave you to fill in the blanks).

So ... how does this help you lead and how does it help you ensure the patient is at the centre of a service which has the highest standards and is effective in the imaging it offers?

1. Servant Leadership is about understanding what it means to put someone else's interests above your own.

A large part of being a leader is the ability to identify with another's emotions, to understand what they're going through and how they are feeling, to be there for your team. When faced with what may look to be an overwhelming task that accreditation can generate, can you step in and develop your team to see the possible? To allow them to grow and develop skills in writing policy/protocol/procedures, to see where quality is important. To ensure they see the patient as the centre of everything they do – bringing it back to why we do the job in the first place.

2. A leader should set a good example for those whom he/she leads.

How do you demonstrate that the patient, quality care, efficiency and effectiveness are important to you?  It is easy to stick within our comfort zones and not challenge ourselves or our behaviours; within the team you work with can they ask you WHY, why do we do that or why don’t we do that? If you demonstrate that you welcome constructive challenge then it will be easier for your team to allow your challenge of them. Life never stands still if we as leaders remain ‘stuck’ in our traditional way of thinking then the onset of the challenge of accreditation will become a threat rather than an opportunity.

3. A  good leader knows how to serve.

I know that often Radiology Service Managers and modality leads don’t have the time to spend doing anything other than the pressured job they already have.  In an environment of staff shortages, increasing workload and targets to meet, it is hard to imagine how you would fit anything else in. But I am sure you are well aware of the value helping staff start off on a process, words like ‘don’t worry I can help you with that’ or ‘let me worry about that and I will show you later’. In doing the task with them and being more proactive about it, a leader can be more influential upon his/her team.

Every good leader starts as a member of a team, learning how to serve. As a leader of small and large teams, I found that I was fortunate enough to inspire some to lead teams of their own someday. 

I didn’t always get it right and I made lots of mistakes along the way; BUT the sense of achievement when you see your team achieve something they never though possible is difficult to describe. To then watch them move on and develop teams of their own is even better.

Why not let the ISAS pathway inspire you and your teams to build on the values you came into the profession for, and to produce a service where you are confident patients come first and experience a quality service and safe, effective care?

1.      Published on March 24, 2017 Featured in: Leadership & ManagementStudent Voices