Guest Post: Servant Leadership & Healing Humanity

Written by Kay Corpus, MD, and appears as published in Love It Evv Magazine.

During the final year of my residency training, now almost 10 years ago, my advisor and I sat down to discuss post-graduate job opportunities. During our conversation, he candidly affirmed that I would never be a strong “physician leader”.  After all, he was well acquainted with my clinical tendency to spend too much time with my patients and become emotionally attached to their stories. He knew I was inherently driven to extract a patient’s entire life chronology to bring into focus a holistic view of individualized healthcare. I suppose his conception of a  “physician leader” was stoic, aggressive, and swiftly decisive based upon objective information, and not reliant on perspicasity or insightful intuition and discernment.

Yet, deep inside, I always knew I could be a leader, even if in a different way, utilizing skills more natural to me…collaboration, creativity, and empathy. Rushing through a hectic daily schedule just to meet a defined quota wasn’t going to embrace the greatest potential for myself, let alone my patients. I therefore decided to create a holistic wellness center that offered a new paradigm of healthcare-empowering others to invoke their fullest expression as well as inspire the surrounding community to be more mindful of interdependence and group support. This kind of vision would require a contemporary model of leadership exemplifying a more feminine way of being.  Innovative business consultant, Janet Crawford says, “Promoting feminine leadership is less of an issue of male vs. female, but a question of whether we are overlooking qualities that may be crucial to navigate the 21st Century business challenges. A recent global survey of 64,000 people, two-thirds of respondents (both genders) ranked feminine leadership traits as essential to solving today’s most pressing problems in business, education, and government. “

What my mentor had thus failed to recognize was that there are actually two leadership ideologies, traditional leadership and a servant leadership. The traditional model is obvious, grounded in hierarchy and authoritarianism. In contrast, the servant model nurtures the needs of others and creates the space for individual greatness to flourish. The concept of servant leadership is found in many ancient religious texts, and is eloquently defined by the Chinese philosopher and poet Lao Tzu (6th Century BCE),

“The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one whom they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy”

Over the past several years, I have tried to embrace those words and become a servant leader of my community. Today I own and direct the Center of Integrative Medicine in Henderson, KY.  With an open mind and heart, it is here that my approach to medicine is free to uncover the true root physical, psychological, and spiritual causes of illness. In addition to personalized patient care, the Center also offers donation-based yoga and meditation classes, as well as frequent informative lectures for physicians, nurses, hospitals, women’s groups, and anyone interested in self-care and empowered living. I also co-lead a yoga teacher training called Transforming Health with Yoga: Leading the Change Through Personal Development & Community Empowerment in which we develop new servant leaders to embody seva or selfless service.

Some days I secretly admit that I hope my mentor will look back and see the physician leader that I have become.  Yet I know that what I truly value is helping to create a more peaceful, caring, and loving world for my children and the generations to come.



Kay Corpus, MD is a board-certified family physician specializing in Integrative and Functional Medicine, as well as is a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. Her approach to medicine involves uncovering the true root cause of illness and disease. She and her patients work together to illuminate how pathology occurs as a result of physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual imbalances. She founded and directs the Center for Integrative Medicine in Henderson, KY, where she guides patients to whole health transformation. For more information, please visit her online at or like her page on Facebook.