Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL)




America's $1.4 trillion healthcare industry is poised to grow rapidly in volumes, revenues and expenditures. Rising healthcare expenditures signal a return of medical inflation, with double-digit premium increases for employers and consumers, and an increased threat of more government regulation and healthcare reforms. In addition, the post 9/11 economic recession and layoffs have increased the number of uninsured patients. While hospitals are investing in expansion initiatives, there is a continued workforce shortage, particularly in nursing. According to Russell Coile, Jr. (1999), healthcare is in crisis.

More focus is being placed on leadership to empower employees and create positive patient care experiences. Healthcare leadership carries enormous responsibility; effective leadership is crucial for effective, safe patient care. Servant leadership, first popularized by Robert Greenleaf in 1970, provides an effective model for healthcare leadership because it puts serving others as the number one priority. The characteristics of a servant leader include: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of the people, and building community. These characteristics mirror many values in healthcare and the successful implementation of a servant leadership culture will enable hospitals to navigate through the current crisis. Servant leadership is being successfully implemented in many industries, but there are only a few examples in healthcare.

This paper explores the trends in healthcare and their implication for leadership. It explains the value of adopting a servant leadership model and examines how a servant leadership culture can be successfully developed and sustained.


SC 11.MAL.2004.Porter.SJ