At its heart, servant leadership is about leaders meeting the needs of their followers by demonstrating ethics and empathy – and much less about ego and personal ambition.
When some people hear the phrase ‘servant leadership’, they automatically associate it with a ‘soft management’ style and believe it’s impossible to serve and lead at the same and is incompatible with the tough world of business.
While authoritarian leadership has a legitimate place in business, it’s a limited-use strategy for interacting with one's employees and can subdue team morale and hinder innovation. We believe that taking on the role of a servant leader will gain you more leadership qualities than you lose. Servant leadership is management that not only gets great results but also generates greater employee satisfaction in the work-place and beyond.
As a servant leader, the primary role is to remove the obstacles that prevent our people from doing their jobs, which in itself a powerful motivator and driver of harmonious and productive work-places.
“We encourage our team to put energy into being responsive in meeting the needs of their customers rather than focusing on bureaucracy or rules,” CEO Richard White says.
“This tends to create prepared and committed customer-facing teams that have a clear vision for helping our clients achieve their goals. Hierarchical leadership should take the responsibility for this visionary role, and once people are clear on where they are going, the leader’s role moves into a service mentality for the operational leadership role, which is mostly about implementation,” White concluded.
Here’s our seven quick take-aways to help make your vision happen
- Value and seek out diverse opinions
A servant leader values all contributions and regularly seeks out other opinions. It's a strategy that managers can use to both engage employees and meet organisational objectives. If you feel the need to parrot-back your leader’s opinion, you are not in a servant-led business
- Cultivate a culture of trust
Start each day by looking for answers to this question: ‘What does my team need from me today to be successful?’ Determine the specific answer and do everything in your command to give your team what they need. When your team is successful, you are successful!
- Develop other leaders
Teaching others to lead and providing opportunities for growth means the leader is not always leading but rather demonstrating through example. By giving up power and deputising others to lead, it allows them to shine. See yourself as a facilitator of others’ successes
- Help people with life issues – not just work stuff
Servant leaders care about people’s lives, not just their work. This may not help an urgent corporate need, but, it’s important to offer opportunities for personal development beyond the work-place. Consider running a company programme on how to reduce single-use plastics or lower personal indebtedness
- Think more ‘you’, not ‘me’
By thinking ‘how does this benefit others?’, you develop a selfless quality in being the servant leader. One of the most persistent barriers to a servant leader is self-interest and an attitude that views the world in a dynamic of ‘give a little, take a lot’
- Think long-term
A servant leader thinks about the next opportunity, the next leader, and the next generation. When sacrificing some of today to develop for tomorrow, it requires a trade-off where we make conscious choices to benefit the future. Robert L Stevenson once said, “don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
- Act with humility
An impressive sounding title is actually not the best way to show who’s in charge. On the contrary the way we act in caring for others creates a direct encouragement for how we prefer others to act. It’s not about the leader’s goals, but about everyone’s