For Stephanie Self, “servant leadership” is far from being a jargon-y maxim. It’s a mentality that’s authentically baked into everything she does as Vice President of Operations for Southern Health Partners.
“I feel very strongly about leading by example. I do not think anyone can truly lead unless they themselves are willing to go the distance — in other words, I don’t ask anything of anyone that I would not do myself,” Self said. “I also like to think I set expectations, but give my team the tools and resources to exceed those expectations. I love the quote: ‘Good leaders do not create followers. They create more leaders.’”
And at Southern Health Partners, Self gets to pay special attention to cultivating a specific set of leaders: talented women who are ready to advance their careers to the next level. It’s just one of the advantages that comes with working for a company where strong female leadership isn’t a rarity — it’s a daily reality.
“Southern Health Partners is a company full of hard-working women who have risen to the challenge,” Self said. “I think that, as women leading the company, we understand the dynamics and adversities women face day-to-day in the workplace. And with understanding comes the knowledge and skill level to teach women how to overcome those struggles.”
The end result? A culture of “strong, experienced and independent women” who believe in reaching down the ladder and pulling others up. Self recently shared with Fairygodboss the ins and outs of working for a company where support is so emphasized, why the “second family” she’s found here is like no other and the top three qualities she looks for in candidates.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been the Vice President of Operations for two years now. Prior to that, I was a Regional Director for Southern Health Partners, but I began my journey with Southern Health Partners as a Medical Team Administrator.
Describe what you do in one sentence.
Encourage and extinguish.
What’s the first and last thing you do at work every day?
First, I drink COFFEE. Last, I pray for my team.
How do you prioritize and deal with your to-do list each day?
I am a creature of habit. Fortunately, I learned this a long time ago, so I have just created a set routine and slay it. Of course, there are kinks thrown almost daily, but I try to handle them right at that moment and continue to move forward.
How would you describe your leadership style?
If you were to ask my team, they would say I am a servant leader. I feel very strongly about leading by example. I do not think anyone can truly lead unless they themselves are willing to go the distance — in other words, I don’t ask anything of anyone that I would not do myself. I also like to think I set expectations while giving my team the tools and resources to exceed those expectations. They know I will inspect what I expect, and they appreciate me more for it. I love the quote: “Good leaders don't create followers. They create more leaders.”
What’s one thing you think young job seekers should know about your company? What about those who are in a more advanced career stage?
For young job seekers, I would say Southern Health Partners is a company that allows individuals who work hard to grow and be promoted from within. There are so many opportunities for a person to excel. As the company grows, so does the need for its leadership. I feel this is something that is important to a younger job seeker, as being in a position of knowing you can’t climb the ladder any further may become a setback and wouldn’t allow you to use your full potential.
As for someone in a more advanced stage of their career — Southern Health Partners is a great place to call home. The relationships you make are priceless, and the second family you inherit is like no other. We welcome an experienced nurse with an abundance of knowledge. The opportunity to grow has no preference on what stage you are at in your career. Hard work and good morals and ethics go a long way.
How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you? How do you build time into your schedule for this kind of work?
This is by far my most favorite part about my job. Because I have been blessed to be in a leadership role, I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many awesome, strong and independent women who may not even realize how awesome they are. I get to inspire these individuals every day. The way I have done this is by pointing out their strengths and making them utilize them on the team. We all have areas to improve on, but where one is weak, the other picks up the slack. So, not only does this build confidence in the individual but it also creates a great support system for one another.
There really is no “building time in your schedule” for this. You either know how to build others up or you don’t. I have been fortunate that God gave me a gift to do this and that I want to do this naturally. There is nothing more rewarding in my role then seeing someone else’s success.
What’s something you’re especially good at, at work?
Motivating others to want to be the best version of themselves, in all aspects of their lives — not just nursing.
What about outside of work?
Not trying to brag, but I am an excellent fisherwoman, wife and mom.
What are you trying to improve on?
I would say procrastination. There’s a certain level of pleasure in trying to complete something with a little bit of pressure.
What are the top three qualities you look for when you’re interviewing a candidate?
Why do you think Southern Health Partners is a particularly supportive work environment for women?
Southern Health Partners is a company full of hard-working women who have risen to the challenge. I think that, as women leading the company, we understand the dynamics and adversities women face day-to-day in the workplace. With understanding comes the knowledge and skill level to teach women how to overcome those struggles. I think it is so important for a woman to earn respect and be viewed as a professional in the workplace, especially in the environment we work in. We have a lot of strong, experienced and independent women that can teach you and support you while working as a woman in an ever-changing environment. Southern Health Partners will root for your success and give you unwavering support as a woman.
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