The number of patients coming to the dialysis unit was increasing day in day out. We were twelve nurses, but the burden of changing catheters, getting a new bed ready for a patient and closely monitoring the changes in urine output and electrolyte levels among other things I was expected to do as a nurse become overwhelming. I always arrived at the hospital early, tired and haggard from the previous day’s work. Most of my colleagues must have also been feeling the same. However, there was one person who always spiced up the little energy we had with motivation and a desire to keep the working-her name was Emily Cohen.
Emily, as we all fondly called her, was the nurse manager. She was the boss. Emily never wanted to be called referred to as, ‘boss’ because she believed it detached her from the team. This gave us license to call her by her first name. It removed the barrier that usually exists in a typical leader-servant environment. All the nurses strived never to annoy Emily because she had the moral authority that made us always want to do the best.
As a nurse manager, she had been exempted from duty so that she concentrates on managerial duties. I was surprised when I always found her beside a patient’s bed. She was always doing what her followers should be doing. The immense experience she got into the field of nursing was always crucial in guiding us. It was her holistic approach to work that endeared her to the entire team in the unit.
I always enjoyed the working environment. The existence of a channel that information could easily flow between nursing manager and us was incredible. Despite her experience in the field, the manager always consulted us. She offered to listen to grievances and concerns about the workload. This made the burden lighter in a dynamic working environment where staff retention has been widely replaced by staff engagement. This made even the most uncooperative nurses in the unit to jump off the bandwagon. Emily never bashed anyone because her approach alone would put any of us to shame.
I believe Emily Cohen prescribes to the participatory leadership theory. The tenets of leadership are laid in the bedrock of communal approach, free flow of information, empathy and service to others. Participatory leadership eradicates the discontent that may arise due to isolation of servants from decision making and policy development forums. The adoption of the servant - leadership approach enhances the direct participation of the followers. Her commitment and foresight were the pillars of a successful team in the adversities of acute staff shortage. The adoption this theory maintains a healthy and productive working relationship in an organization where service to others and commitment define a true leader in the society.
Nohria, N., & Khurana, R. (2010). Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice (illustrated ed.). Boston: Harvard Business Press.
Winkler, I. (2009). Contemporary Leadership Theories: Enhancing the Understanding of the Complexity, Subjectivity and Dynamic of Leadership (illustrated ed.). New York: Springer.