Bioethics Blogs

Promoting Animal Welfare through Ethical Service: Servant Leadership and the IACUC

By Angela Craig, DVM, lab animal veterinarian and institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) member at the University of Minnesota

Have you ever had this experience? You learn something new, such as an interesting concept or novel word, and suddenly that concept or word comes up repeatedly in a variety of situations over the next few weeks or months. Whether it is a coincidence or just your mind recognizing something that is now familiar, it is an interesting phenomenon.

I’ve recently had this experience with the concept of ‘servant leadership,’ which I was introduced to while participating in a mentorship program for veterinary students. Since then, I feel like I have repeatedly been made aware of how servant leadership can positively impact individuals and organizations.

Servant leadership is not a new philosophy, but Robert K. Greenleaf is credited with describing the modern tenets in an essay he wrote in 1970 called The Servant as Leader. While not every servant leadership concept aligns perfectly with the way an IACUC should function, the basis could be used to promote a healthy and functional committee. At its core, servant leadership is about serving others before oneself, promoting the growth and development of others, sharing power, and creating a better society. According to Larry C. Spears, servant leaders listen, have empathy, are good stewards, build community, and commit to the growth of people. Kent M. Keith would add that they practice self-reflection. These concepts lend themselves easily to the community of individuals that come together to form an IACUC.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.