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How Can a Servant Leader Use the Amplification Hypothesis?

November 13, 2019 Matt Rocco

True leadership skills are in short supply and high demand in the modern-day workplace. In the past, team members often responded immediately to authority based on a person’s position. This is no longer the case. An empowered workforce brings many advantages to the table. Still, one aspect of that is resistance. Servant leadership provides managers with the tools to turn resistance into an opportunity for creative input, which spearheads positive change.

One item in that leadership development toolbox is the amplification hypothesis. According to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, researchers have been fascinated by the effects of the amplification hypothesis since the 1990s. This particular study in 2008, however, helped to bring the amplification hypothesis out of the social psychology vacuum and into the work environment.

What Is the Amplification Hypothesis?

Everyone believes in something or holds opinions. Some people have stronger convictions than others. Similarly, people feel more strongly about some of their beliefs than others. When someone has a strong sense of commitment to a particular belief, social scientists call this attitude certainty. When servant leaders disagree with team members, this certainty comes to life.

The knee-jerk response in these scenarios is to fire back with facts and directly attempt to persuade a team member to your side. However, a strong leadership quality is the ability to find common ground. The amplification hypothesis, therefore, states that if your team members disagree with what you desire, find common ground and start your negotiation there.

If you instead exhibit certainty about a particular opinion or belief, it may increase resistance. However, when servant leaders give some leeway and take a softer approach, it softens the resistance and may lead to a more positive outcome.

How Servant Leaders Can Put This Into Action

It sounds good on paper. However, managers may wonder how they can act smartly and use the amplification hypothesis as part of the servant leadership model? Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind.

  1. Practice Active Listening: Finding common ground with team members requires understanding what the pain points are. What people say may only indicate or suggest what they really mean, especially in a professional setting. Too often do people spend the time they should be listening on formulating a response. Always listen for the true meaning behind the words.
  2. Engage With Questions: One way to amplify your active listening skills is to verify your understanding by asking questions. Showing a genuine interest in what team members have to say further offers validation, even when you disagree in the end. It also provides you with greater insight and may challenge any initial assumptions you had about their pain points.
  3. Respect Their Competence: Team members often believe managers do not respect their ability to do their work well. The less autonomy they have over their own work and the lower their job position, the more likely this may be. To make it worse, poor leaders often find a weak point in an argument and use that as a foundation to push their own agenda. Servant leaders should place more emphasis on showing team members how much value they offer now as opposed to pinpointing flaws.
  4. Approach as an Equal: A study published by Springer Nature illustrated that humility was an important quality of good leaders. Humility in servant leadership helps managers to build trust and earn respect from their team members. This often facilitates more honest input so that managers may create changes that directly address real problems.
  5. Consider Personal Biases: Humility requires identifying and acknowledging your shortcomings too. Team members aren’t the only ones with strong convictions. Your own personal beliefs backed by your authority may hinder your active listening and bias you toward acting on your own opinions. Beware of this and find ways to ensure biases do not get in the way.
  6. Create a Positive Environment: A 2017 study on servant leadership found that it can help to create a positive work environment. Focus on developing characteristics, such as compassion, empathy, and philanthropy. The study found that these contribute to the emotional well-being of workers. This, in turn, increases teamwork, strengthens social relationships and improves performance levels.

At Etech we promote servant leadership as not just a managerial principle but a strong component of our customer relationships and our service model. From motivating our own team members to neutralizing tough situations with customers at our call centers, we put the amplification hypothesis to good use on a daily basis. Contact us today to learn how we use these principles to manage client relationships and interactions with your customers.