Over the years, the concept of leadership has morphed into many forms. It is no longer presumed for just the top executive members. Robert K. Greenleaf, in his book entitled “The Servant as Leader,” he defined servant leadership as “a philosophy and set of practices that enrich the lives of individuals, build better organizations, and ultimately create a more just and caring world.”
Servant leadership completely transforms the hierarchical model of leadership. Traditional leadership hierarchy has the leader at the top in a position of authority and power, while servant leadership places the leader at the bottom in a more supporting and serving position. Servant leadership complements democratic leadership styles where leaders get to show their humility in the workplace.
An example of a historical servant leader is Mother Teresa. She demonstrated the self-sacrificing of a servant leader quality by taking care of the sick, elderly, and the poor.
Here are principles that can be used to incorporate servant leadership in the modern workplace:
Learn Active Listening
Listening is central to servant leadership and effective communication. Effective servant leaders actively listen intently and respectfully to others. It is important that you give people your full attention, understand both verbal and non-verbal cues, ask questions where necessary, and act meaningfully. Learning active listening is a skill that will help you in both your career and personal life.
Empathy is a quality that enables servant-leaders to identify with team members. You can keep an open mind and strive to understand other people’s perspectives. Empathy helps to understand other people’s likes and dislikes, as well as what motivates them. The better you know your team, the better you can serve and support them. This quality will help you to build trust with your team members.
Encourage Diversity of Thought
Final decisions should be a result of collaboration and the exchange of ideas between team members. Servant leadership encourages diversity of ideas and treatment of all team members with equality.
Culture of Trust
Trust is earned, not given. Servant leadership encourages transparent and clear communication of the objectives and goals of the business to everyone in the organization. Fair dissemination of information helps to build trust. In addition, getting to know the personalized details of those you lead goes a long way in developing trust and personal motivation.
Self-awareness is a quality often seen in effective servant leaders. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, and areas of improvement is essential for your growth and development as a leader. The same goes for understanding your team’s strengths, weaknesses, and talents, both collectively and as individuals in the team.
Awareness also extends to understanding the climate, culture, and nature of the work environment. Having awareness in the field you are leading can better help to manage and serve your team.
People encounter difficulties both at work and outside work, which creates stress and anxiety, limiting their work performance. Servant leaders can easily identify these issues and provide healing. Healing can be achieved through creating a positive work environment, coaching, mentoring, or just making the people feel valued. Effective healing requires the servant leader to have high emotional intelligence.
Using consensus and collaboration promotes persuasion by servant leaders, as opposed to other styles of leadership which are more associated with power, authority, and coercion. Servant leaders would want for people to want to follow them, not feel like they have to follow them. This ensures that everyone has a true and sincere belief in the work vision, future ambitions, and the objectives to be achieved.
As a leader, you ought to have a clear understanding of where you and your organization are heading into the future. Without this clarity, there would be distractions and a lack of direction. Senior leaders should develop clear-cut strategies to achieve the organization’s goals. These objectives make it clear of each team member’s role and hence keep them motivated.
This quality enables the servant leader to predict future outcomes of a decision by studying past experiences. The servant-leader can discern lessons learned from the past and the realities of the present day to speculate about the likely outcome of any future decisions. Servant leaders are highly reflective of past experiences and can use the outcomes of prior decisions to inform the likely outcomes of future decisions. It is therefore important to allocate specific times to reflect on past experiences and future potential decisions.
Servant leadership should be ethical, authentic, and focused on more than just profits. All servant leaders have the social responsibility that their institutions work for the greater good of society. Servant leaders should therefore be demonstrating accountability and decency in leadership.
Duty to the Betterment of the People
Commitment to the growth of the people is the central pillar of servant leadership. Servant leaders are deeply committed to their team members’ personal and professional growth. Servant leaders ensure growth by ensuring their team members’ welfare and well-being. This is because servant leaders believe that people have intrinsic value beyond simply their work.
Developing and building an effective community is fundamental to servant leadership. Servant leaders aim to create and synthesize social and task-orientated communities. The community spirit can be enhanced by organizing non-work-related events for the team members to interact with one another. Establishing strong team cohesion is an important component for service leaders, and this can be achieved through enhanced trust and an ambitious vision.
Servant leadership can create a beautiful and supportive work environment if used well. Implementing these principles of servant leadership leads to more trust and stronger relationships between team members and other stakeholders, increased engagement and innovation, informed decision-making, and improved profitability in a business scenario. By setting good examples, servant leadership also promotes ethical behavior in the workplace.
At Etech, we can help you adopt effective servant leadership techniques to help your organization thrive. Get in touch with us to learn more.