Dr. John Stahl-Wert

Today, there is a growing movement towards Serving Leadership that was not discernable 50 years ago. Organizations around the globe are discovering the transforming impact of this model that views a leader’s work as more about serving and empowering others rather than being served. Consider Cleveland Clinic, one of the world’s premiere healthcare providers. After receiving unacceptable evaluations in patient satisfaction and employee engagement in 2008, the Clinic launched a multi-phase initiative to embed “The 5 Actions ℠” taught in The Serving Leader in its organizational culture. The results were nothing less than dramatic. When compared to other hospital systems in 2008, Cleveland Clinic ranked only in the 43rd percentile for employee engagement. In 2013, it scored in the 87th percentile—a significant improvement that also had a direct, measurable increase in patient satisfaction.

     Cleveland Clinic Employee Engagement

  • Before Serving Leadership – 2008 43% 43%
  • After Serving Leadership – 2014 87% 87%

Patrnchak, J. (2015). Implementing Servant Leadership at Cleveland Clinic: A Case Study in Organizational Change. Servant Leadership: Theory and Practice, Vol. 2, Iss. 1. Retrieved from http://www.sltpjournal.org

Other organizations that have embraced Serving Leadership in recent years include Marriott, Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A, Kaiser Permanente, Starbucks, and the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marines, as well as the senior leadership of the Bank of China.

In an article for Harvard Business School’s website, Working Knowledge, HBS Professor Emeritus, James Heskett, sums up his review of Serving Leadership. He quotes the groundbreaking work of Wharton Business School’s organizational psychologist, Adam Grant. Serving Leaders, Grant writes, “are not only more highly regarded than others by their employees, and not only feel better about themselves at the end of the day, but are more productive as well.”

Considering the time and money leadership development requires, companies continuously search for training and coaching resources that will bear a measurable and justifiable return. Research data increasingly demonstrates that Serving Leadership has a direct impact on a company’s bottom-line performance; therefore, the decision to invest in this leadership model simply makes sense.



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