People say servant-leaders can lead from any level of an organization, with or without direct reports. Can I give an example?
Here’s a story of servant leadership at any level: Nurse Bryan.
The story comes from The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker. Drucker was a friend and professional colleague of Robert K. Greenleaf, considered the founder of the modern servant leadership movement.*
“A new hospital administrator, holding his first staff meeting, thought that a rather difficult matter had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, when one of the participants suddenly asked: ‘Would this have satisfied Nurse Bryan?’ At once the argument started all over and did not subside until a new and much more ambitious solution to the problem had been hammered out.
Nurse Bryan, the administrator learned, had been a long-serving nurse at the hospital. She was not particularly distinguished, had not in fact ever been a supervisor. But whenever a decision on patient care came up on her floor, Nurse Bryan would ask, ‘Are we doing the best we can do to help this patient?’ Patients on Nurse Bryan’s floor did better and recovered faster. Gradually over the years, the whole hospital had learned to adopt what came to be known as ‘Nurse Bryan’s Rule’; had learned in other words, to ask: ‘Are we really making the best contribution to the purpose of this hospital?’
Though Nurse Bryan herself had retired almost ten years earlier, the standards she set still made demands on people who in terms of training and position were here superiors.”
What do you think? Do you see Nurse Bryan as a servant-leader? Would you agree that servant-leaders can lead from any level of an organization?
Let us know.
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* You might like this post, “10 Great Quotes from Greenleaf’s Friend, Drucker”