What is Servant Leadership?

What is Servant Leadership?

NBC’s television series, New Amsterdam, follows Dr. Max Goodwin as the new medical director of a public hospital (New Amsterdam) in New York City. Max was hired to drive positive change within the highly bureaucratic organization to better serve its patients. In the first episode, on multiple occasions, Max says in meetings and in one-on-ones with staff, “How can I help?” That is, how can I help you better serve your patients? How can I help you do your job better? How can I help remove the blockers that are in your way?

During a staff meeting, Max also says, “I work for you so you can work for your patients.” In both statements – “How can I help?” and “I work for you” – Max is demonstrating he is a servant leader. Servant leaders invert the business norm. Instead of employees working to serve their leader, the leader works to serve their employees. Servant leaders put the needs of their employees first, i.e., before the company or their own, while helping them develop their full potential and perform at their best.

In episode three, Max encounters a homeless woman in front of the hospital with a foot injury. After resisting Max’s offer to treat her, the woman says okay. Afterward treatment, she says to Max, “I have a brother, can you help him too?” Max’s initial response is, “I have patients and staff inside that need me.” After he says it, he instantly feels the statement is inconsistent with his core value i.e., service. He then says to the woman, “How can I help?” It is a good reminder leaders work for their customers and employees to achieve their desired outcomes.

All contents copyright 2018, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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