The Role of Servant Leadership in Employee Engagement & Job Satisfaction
Priscilla DeLeon, PhD
Chief of Veteran Experience, Department of Veteran Affairs, Northern Indiana Healthcare System
Dr. Priscilla DeLeon completed a successful dissertation entitled “A Case Study of Global Leadership in Allied Health: Supporting the Enhancement of Employees’ Engagement and Job Satisfaction.” The report was very overwhelming and dear to the author as an allied health professional herself for over ten years in various roles. Her research sought to learn how servant leadership could be used to engage and increase the job satisfaction of employees. This research was an opportunity to serve and support all parties in the healthcare field including patients, families, and staff.
Global allied health leaders play a key role in promoting health and well-being in healthcare for their employees. DeLeon’s study contributed to exploring how global leaders in allied health support employees’ job satisfaction and levels of engagement. This study used a qualitative methodology, employing a case study research design to explore servant leadership and allied health leaders, specifically whether servant leadership plays a role in job satisfaction and employee engagement.
The Study’s Findings
Healthcare in the U.S. has grown into a highly complex system of allied health professionals working in their own specialties toward the shared goal of healing patients and averting illness.¹ Healthcare occupations are growing because of an aging population and the demand for healthcare services.¹ Healthcare is growing much faster than the average for all occupations while adding about 2.4 million new jobs globally.² Because the need for healthcare continues to grow, allied health professionals are needed.
This study’s findings suggested that servant leadership characteristic behaviors could be identified in the data. The study’s findings indicated that the themes identified in the interviews supported servant leadership theory. For example, in themes “listening and communication” and “importance of leadership,” participants expressed that listening and communication are strong attributes of servant leadership characteristic behaviors and are desired for leaders in organizations who want to engage staff/employees for follow-through to complete tasks.
In addition to this, the participants acknowledged that the characteristics of servant leadership help to create a workplace that enhances employees’ overall well-being. The importance of leadership as a theme also aligns with the servant leadership behavior of commitment to the growth of people. In addition to these two themes, “building teams to be successful” was also an attribute of servant leadership as a characteristic that aligns with building a community. The findings of this study also suggested that leaders in global allied health agree on the importance of leaders possessing the characteristics of servant leadership.
Future studies could explore how employees themselves feel about their support from allied health leaders and how it improves their employee engagement, job satisfaction, work-life balance and productivity in the workplace. In future research, it would be helpful also to understand how and what leaders did operationally to improve employees’ engagement and job satisfaction (e.g., programs, services, and policies).
The results of this study create new opportunities for global allied health leaders to incorporate the principles of servant leadership characteristics and a global mindset to improve employee engagement and job satisfaction in allied health fields. It is my strong belief that the data from the findings support the servant leadership theory and will most likely be of importance to the global allied health leaders’ future and in turn contribute to scholarly literature. It is recommended that future studies utilize a possible mixed methods study approach to explore/examine what characteristics are directly used to support allied health leaders to improve employee engagement and job satisfaction in healthcare for allied health professionals.
1 Liaison International, 2020
2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020
About the Author
Dr. DeLeon is an Advocate for Veterans and fellow employees. She is committed to transforming the human experience in healthcare to better meet the needs of Veterans. Dr. DeLeon focuses on growth and leadership skills to continue to improve the development of not only herself but also her organization. It’s important to her to give back to the VA, as the organization has assisted her family members who served in the military. Her passion is to improve the overall healthcare experience for the Department of Veterans Health Administration.
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