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Creating Genuine and Long-Term Servant Leadership Cultures

September 21, 2018 Matt Rocco

Etech’s philosophy of Servant Leadership is simple “A servant leader is a servant first, showcasing the natural feeling of serving others humbly, than to serve first”. When we hear the word Humility, it may bring to mind images of things that seem “less-than” or “weak”. Etech defines Humility as being sincere, transparent, open and honest.

It has been long debatable what’s the meaning of servant leadership? It’s obviously about leadership, but it’s about leadership that’s based on dialogue rather than monologue. Servant leaders are far removed from the archetypal “boss” persona that often bears a closer resemblance to a dictator than a leader. When you hear employees referring to their manager as someone who cares about their needs, you’re hearing them talk about a servant leader. Companies have much to gain from managers who embody this leadership style – it helps to create a positive and long-term workplace culture that fosters employee growth, skill-development and dedication.

Some Basic Personality Traits of a Servant Leader

Empathy: A leader who lacks empathy will have a tough time understanding their employees’ point of view. It requires the ability to listen closely to what others are saying to understand their perspective. An important factor in what has been termed emotional intelligence, empathy is one of the foundations of servant leadership. When empathy is demonstrated in a leader’s interactions with their employees, those same employees will be better equipped and motivated to follow the leader’s example when they deal with customers. In this respect, a servant leader leads by example and can play a significant role in developing a highly customer-centric workforce.

Foresight: Decision-making should include consideration of past, present and future circumstances while also balancing collective versus individual needs. This may sound more like an ideal to aspire to, but servant leaders typically have a wider degree of focus than leaders who only see the needs of the moment. Servant leaders tend to see the big picture and make decisions accordingly. Part of the big picture is the human element – that of employees and customers – which can often be a significant factor. Servant leaders don’t lose sight of the human element in their decision-making.

Humility: It’s better to admit to a mistake than to try to hide it. Servant leaders gain the respect of others when they admit they were wrong, and if need be, offer an apology. It also sets a good example for employees when it can be shown that one can learn from their mistakes or misjudgments.

Self-Awareness: The ability to be aware of how your actions and words affect others is an important part of servant leadership. The dictator-leader may not give much consideration to self-awareness other than focusing on how quickly commands are obeyed. The self-aware leader, however, understands the need to control his emotions and behavior so that others are not affected in a negative way.

Two Organizational Benefits

Servant leaders recognize the dangers in territoriality. When workgroups or departments become fiefdoms, the entire organization suffers. The servant leader understands the value of sharing information and skills across workgroups and stresses the need for cooperation and teamwork. This benefits the entire organization and promotes a company culture that minimizes employee turnaround while also attracting higher quality new recruits. An organization benefits when employees are in it for the long haul and when they also help spread the word that the company is a great place to work.

When the internal environment is a positive one, it spreads outward to the company’s customers. In addition to displaying their customer-relations skills, employees often communicate their positive feelings about their company, which can contribute to increased customer loyalty.