Volunteer Experience: Servant Leadership Analysis
Volunteering for the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) was the best experience of my life being a war veteran myself. I am a retired Navy Officer retired and a Registered nurse. Currently, I work as a nurse manager at a Psychiatric forensic hospital. I understand that war veterans experience a lot of challenges after completing their service and there are many ways to help them to grow and to overcome their problems.
Therefore, signing up to volunteer at a local veteran (VA) hospital in Kerrville, Texas in September was deeply satisfying. At the VA hospital, I engaged with the war veterans through talking and cheerfully sharing my stories with them. I also served them their meals and transported them to their appointment in the hospital.
Either, I engaged more with the younger war heroes. I wanted to talk to them about PTSD that is a major challenge among the veterans. Being a psychiatric nurse, I have the knowledge and experience that I would share with the patients at the hospital to help them deal with their mental conditions. Psychotherapy or “talk” therapy is one of the main treatments for people with PTSD. I had the purpose to help the patients to overcome symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger, and feeling numb inside by cheerfully talking to them. Just by serving the veterans, I felt that I was actually leading the war heroes in the healthcare facility.
The virtuous attributes of unconditional compassion and benevolence that form the pillars of servant-leadership greatly influenced my volunteer experience. Robert Greenleaf established that servant-leadership is not about management but service first (Greenleaf Centre, 2016). It was not my desire to manage the conditions of the patients but to help them to be more comfortable, to feel free and more autonomous. I focused on the growth and well-being of the war heroes through demonstrating unconditional compassion and benevolence (Sipe & Frick, 2015). To me, volunteering was a way of showing respect to the war heroes and showing kindness and compassion for their sacrifice to protect their nation. The principle that I utilized the most through completing the servant leadership experience was selfless service. I was at the center to put the welfare of the war heroes first above mine. I was committed and focused on ensuring that the priority needs of the veterans were being served.
However, I found myself as a leader in the VA facility during my short volunteer experience. I was amazed by the followership that I had gained simply by talking, serving means and transporting patients to their appointments in the hospitals. It was a beautiful way to learn that by serving others one actually leads. When I was serving meals and transporting the patients, the veterans stopped me and asked me to help them through their journey of recovery. I was pleased to see that through my involvement the patients became healthier, free and were happy to have served their nation. The war heroes demonstrated that they could offer their selfless service to the people again if they had the chance to do so.
Additionally, I learned through my volunteer experience that serving others as a leader might influence change or produce a positive impact for the greater good. For instance, my younger patients at the facility become freer to share their experiences with their physicians. Through talking cheerfully with the PTSD patients, the war heroes appreciated the importance of sharing their experiences as the first step to recovery. Moreover, the patients looked happier and healthier. This outcome had a bigger impact on medication use in the hospital. The physicians reported that the antidepressants prescription reduced because the patients preferred to engage in psychotherapy to deal with their depression.
I have often involved two major leadership tactics in my practice which are transformational leadership and influential leadership. Using transformational leadership tactics, I have inspired my subordinates and patients to work towards a common goal to ensure improvement and achieve their outcome (Allen, Moore, Moser, Neill, Sambamoorthi & Bell, 2016). On the other hand, I have utilized influential leadership tactics to help people to identify problems, recognize required change, and to develop procedures to implement the required change by communicating collective goals and emphasizing the importance of commitment and valuing service. Either, I have learned that servant-leadership may be the best approach to adopt in an organizational setting like in the nursing profession because it focuses on supporting and developing the individuals within an institution (Allen et al., 2016).
On the contrary, servant leadership “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first… Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” (Greenleaf Centre, 2016). The overall effect of servant leadership is that “those served grow as persons… they become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants.” I have learned through my volunteer experience that I could adopt servant-leadership in my practice to improve patient outcome and increase the quality of healthcare through my clients. Servant-leadership not only transforms those being served but also influences them to want to contribute to help other people.Because the individuals being served develop the feeling to become servants themselves through showing benevolence and unconditional compassion, they offer their service to the community (Sipe and Frick, 2015). Consequently, they could extend their help to other people in the community to enhance public health intervention.
In conclusion, I have learned through my volunteer experience that power comes from giving it away. In my case, I got the power to educate individuals on the importance of managing their mental health issues. I also got the power to influence war heroes to be more compassionate and help other people even in their current states in the hospital facility. Indeed, Greenleaf’s principles of servant leadership are indispensable in the nursing profession. I believe that by putting the desires of the client first by giving selfless service to the patients and showing love, respect, humility, and compassion, a nurse can be able to improve the quality of healthcare provision. Moreover, servant leadership influences the subordinates to show compassionate love and develop the desire to want to help, encourage a virtuous attitude of kindness and altruism through which the nurse can utilize community health intervention tools such as collaboration and cooperation to improve the well-being of the public.
Allen, G. P., Moore, W. M., Moser, L. R., Neill, K. K., Sambamoorthi, U., & Bell, H. S. (2016). The Role of Servant Leadership and Transformational Leadership in Academic Pharmacy. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 80(7), 113. http://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe807113
Greenleaf Centre, (2016). What is servant leadership? Retrieved form,https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is- servant-leadership/
Parris, D. L., & Peachey, J. W. (2013). A systematic literature review of servant leadershiptheory in organizational contexts. Journal of business ethics, 113(3), 377-393
Sipe, J. W., & Frick, D. M. (2015). Seven pillars of servant leadership: Practicing the wisdom of leading by serving.