Cleveland Clinic is one of the world's premier health institutions, and it decided to launch an organization development process that aimed not only to increase employee engagement but also improve the overall experience of patients in their institution. It is the concept of servant leadership that the organization implemented into their culture. The new chief human resource officer conducted an informal assessment and realized that a significant number of people at the clinic felt unappreciated and undervalued. Employee engagement encompasses heightened intellectual and emotional connection an employee has for the job, the organization, as well as managers and coworkers, and this influences the discretionary effort to work. Employee engagement has been known to impact on patient satisfaction directly. The new people strategy was designed to make Cleveland clinic a place that is conducive for both work and growth, and this is only possible when employees feel that their leaders treat them with respect and care about them.
There exists a critical relationship between leadership and employee engagement, and implementing the servant leadership process is an on-going effort to promote the clinic's engagement activities. The top-down leadership model that focuses on command and control was initially used by the Cleveland clinic, but with the new people strategy came the need to show more respect and listen to those who report to them (Patrnchak, 2016). The command and control leadership is, however, effective at initiating emotional engagement in the military. As Robert Greenleaf powerfully articulated, the servant leadership process allows leaders to participate in ensuring that other people's priority needs are being served. The clinic has always been a physician-run organization that focuses on clinical excellence and a way of doing things that promotes the best possible clinical results. Although implementing the servant leadership process is a development, it should not be construed the set culture of clinical excellence; otherwise, it should be resisted.
The first step in the implementation process involved creating awareness whereby coaching was done for the executive leadership team, and later the serving leadership ideology was introduced across the entire enterprise by a series of informal small group meetings. It received resistance from several physicians who had adopted the command control form of leadership completely by default, and they found it hard to embrace the new process of servant leadership. The second step to implementing this process was developing serving leadership skills for various executive leadership teams. Other engagement initiatives, such as recognizing the contribution of all employees as well as rewarding caregiver behavior, have served to reinforce the core servant leadership principle hence making Cleveland clinic a good place to work and grow. It generally improved on the level of employee and caregiver relationship engagement and in turn, the patient satisfaction, and this was possible because servant leadership became embedded in the operating culture of the clinic even with the initial resistance it faced.
The process of implementation posed several challenges for the Cleveland clinic among them involved in the interaction between servant leaders and organizations. In the Cleveland clinic, the natures of servant leadership and organizations were in collusion during the implementation process of servant leadership. While the clinic exists to serve patients, the nature of servant leadership touches on service to others, and physicians at Cleveland resisted this process of servant leadership by claiming to have been trained to take charge and make difficult decisions that are critical to outstanding patient care. It would be difficult if they had to put some focus on serving followers (Savel, 2017). The servant leadership process operated by challenging and changing roles, tasks, and mission at a place which is beyond the capacity of the Cleveland clinic, this challenge pushes the organization to slow the pace of growth and development. Lack of trust in the initial stages of implementation made it difficult for servant leaders to build up healthy communities beyond their current circle of contacts. It made the implementation process hectic and slow due to resistance from emerging leaders who refused to conform to the new process of leadership proposed by the servant leaders.
The integration strategy can be used in cases whereby the purpose of the organization is in conflict with the servant leadership focus on serving followers, and it is used when the servant leader is a member or has consistent access to the senior organizational staff hence increasing openness and promoting growth in both individuals as well as the organization. Those practicing servant leadership at a senior level in the leadership of Cleveland clinic can strategically help create an organization that exists to serve. Also, promoting high levels of employee engagement increases the excellence, innovation, and growth of the emerging leaders hence avoiding the challenge of conflicting leadership styles (Elliker, 2016). Changing from a mechanical approach of leadership to a more organic structure depends on the self-sacrifice of servant leaders and the ultimate choice between confrontation or avoidance of major issues affecting servant leadership and organizations. Servant leadership has a unique position in the life of an organization and hence, the need to find solutions and strategies for mitigating and hopefully eradicating the conflict between them.
Elliker, J. (2016). Understanding Ontological Conflict Between Servant Leadership and Organizations. Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice, 3(2), 5.
Patrnchak, J. M. (2016). Implementing servant leadership at Cleveland clinic: A case study in organizational change. Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice, 2(1), 3.
Savel, R. H., & Munro, C. L. (2017). Servant leadership: The primacy of service.
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