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Servant leadership: a case study of a Canadian health care innovator

Authors Vanderpyl T

Received 4 December 2011

Accepted for publication 9 January 2012

Published 16 February 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 9—16

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JHL.S28810

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Tim H Vanderpyl

School of Global Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA, USA

Abstract: Both servant leadership and innovation are easier to theorize than to actually implement in practice. This article presents a case study of a Canadian health care executive who led a remarkable turnaround of St Michael's Health Centre, a floundering and almost bankrupt nursing home. In less than 7 years, Kevin Cowan turned around the finances and changed numerous broken relationships into strategic alliances. Under his leadership, St Michael's Health Centre went from being one of the most underperforming health care organizations in Canada, to one of the most innovative. This article describes some of Cowan's strategies and argues that a servant leadership approach has a direct impact on an organization's ability to innovate. As far as the author is aware, this is the first published article on this specific change effort, which presents a unique perspective on the topics of servant leadership and innovation.

Keywords: servant leadership, innovation, Canada, health care, case study

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