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Are you a River or Reservoir? How to be a Better Servant Leader

By Shane Elmore, RN

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I’m sure this happens in every industry, but most of my experience is in healthcare -- have you ever worked with that person who seems to have an abundance of organizational knowledge? I’ve learned from some amazing people like that over the years, and I've found that many people function either as a river or a reservoir when it comes to how they share that wisdom. 

Let's first explore the reservoir types. Many of these people tend to keep their knowledge, no matter how vast, all to themselves and only share what they have to. They are incredibly knowledgeable, but they have what I call a scarcity mindset.  These people have been with the organization for a long time, and they understand one thing: Knowledge is power! So what do they do? They hoard it. They function out of fear. They are afraid of what will happen if someone knows what they know.

Often, these reservoir types don't prioritize investing in those around them. They put themselves in situations where they are the ones who always get to come through with the answers in the big meeting. They keep it to themselves until the right time, and then they bless us with their knowledge. These people hold their cards very close to their chest, and they never show their hand unless they are in front of Senior leadership. 

In contrast, perhaps you've worked with someone who functions like a river. These people are just as knowledgeable as the reservoir types, but they have what I call an abundance mentality. They look at the world as if there is a supply that is limitless. They aren't afraid to share everything they know. They allow everything that comes to them to flow back out again like a river. They understand that the more they share, the more they learn. 

So what kind of person are you? What are you learning to make your company more successful? What investments are you making in the people around you? You are more valuable than the information you have. And, you are most valuable when you invest in those around you by sharing your knowledge, thereby bettering your peers.  At Pulsara, we value Servant Leadership! Practicing this river mentality is a perfect exercise in being a servant leader.

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Shane Elmore, RN

Shane Elmore, RN

Shane is Pulsara's Vice President of Clinical Innovation, and is certified in CCRN, CEN, and CFRN. Shane is a former Chest Pain Coordinator at Trinity Mother Frances Health System.

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