Servant leadership is the desire to serve others for the greater good on an individual, team, and organizational level. By putting aside individual desires, servant leaders act as examples and help drive excellence in all endeavors, including flawless customer service and personal growth.
By providing a unifying philosophy as a servant leader, you can encourage all team members to give their best efforts to each task. Therefore, when interacting with individuals, always ask what you can do to make the process flow better for the whole team. By recognizing and encouraging abilities, achievements and efforts, you show that you value other perspectives besides your own.
Servant leaders adopt the courage and skill needed to learn from others and teach instead of command. In short, this approach involves motivating people by leading from the heart. Thus, this transformational leadership philosophy complements a bottoms-up organizational style.
To fully embrace a servant leader culture, leaders and departments must move from “I” to “We.”
Moving From “I” to “We”
It’s essential to understand the steps needed to close the gap between supervisors and managers in a contact center environment. For example, there could be emotional obstacles to overcome, requiring your team to build emotional intelligence as a steppingstone. By having a team of strong individuals, you can create cohesive, well-functioning teams focused on the customer experience and business growth. Let’s take a closer look at each of these processes.
Overcome Emotional Obstacles
Servant leadership involves personal growth for you as a leader and each person in your sphere of influence. In order to grow, emotions, feelings, and behaviors must align with putting the needs of the group first. Unfortunately, human egos sometimes prevent team members from focusing on service to others in the workplace.
What negative emotions can hold you or your team back? Fear of making mistakes or failing as a leader can prevent you from making the necessary changes in yourself and your organization. Pride can make you less willing to give up feelings of power and importance. Additionally, arrogance can derail your efforts to serve others and, through them, your organization. Arrogance includes assuming that only you can handle a task correctly. However, without delegation, it’s hard for companies to meet business objectives.
By attaching feelings of worth to status, job title, or money, you may get stuck in the “I” mentality. To switch to a “We” culture, promote positive feelings such as courage, humility, and trust. It could take some time to make these transitions, so give yourself grace and patience until they become natural.
Build Emotional Intelligence
By raising your self-awareness, you can increase your emotional intelligence (EQ). This may seem like a challenging task. However, many tools can help you understand yourself better and incorporate servant leadership principles in your life.
Emergenetics and other tools encourage engagement and help team members understand how the way they think affects their emotional health. You can also use meditation apps such as Calm or Checking In, which help you become a mindful leader in touch with your thoughts and feelings. Meditating with coworkers during breaks or before or after shifts may lead to more harmony in the group, and it’s a great way to destress after a busy or challenging day in a contact center.
On an organizational level, professional development programs, coaching, and mentorship help team members stay engaged and hopeful. These programs can also help individuals track their progress and measure their growth inside and outside the workplace.
Achieve the Right Behavior and Attitude
To become a successful servant leader, you may find it helpful to change habits or behaviors which are holding you back. As you increase your self-awareness, you soon realize that making the right small decisions can directly influence the outcome of more significant decisions, such as policies and procedures, that support organizational transformation.
Many pundits say that it takes three weeks to develop a habit. So, why not choose one activity that can help you, such as meditating. As discussed, meditating can help you become more mindful of your actions and remain engaged at work. Why not start by meditating for two to three minutes a day and gradually increase your practice every day?
Instead of jumping into messages and task lists at the beginning of the day, take a more measured approach to prioritize your tasks. As a servant leader, you need this discipline to align yourself with customer needs and business objectives.
Practice Continuous Coaching
When you focus on the needs of your team members, you can provide guidance beyond annual performance reviews. By regularly correcting, encouraging, and engaging with each team member, you incorporate development and feedback into your workday. There are many advantages to taking this tact. When you listen first and talk second, your team members will build a rapport with you that makes it easier to provide constructive criticism.
Honestly, developing active listening skills challenges many servant leaders. However, when you allow space in the conversation for the other person to talk, they feel heard, and you can provide the advice or information required for ultimate success.
Deliver on Promises
Servant leaders keep their word to maintain the trust of those who rely on them. If you cannot follow through on a promise for some reason, have a genuine, honest conversation with the impacted team members as soon as possible. Even if you have to deliver bad news, you will maintain the trust of your people and create a culture of honesty and integrity.
12 Characteristics That Exemplify Servant Leadership
At Etech, we have identified 12 characteristics that form the foundation of our culture. Each leader can use these traits to help your contact center move from an “I” to “We” mindset:
- Valuing People
- Team Work
- Positive Influence
With these characteristics leading the vision and actions of individual team members and servant leaders, building a servant leader culture that results in more robust customer service and retention is much easier. It’s also a great way to attract and keep the right people at all levels.
Achieving Servant Leadership in the Workplace
Organizations that develop servant leadership as an overarching theme reap tangible rewards. You may notice happier, less stressed employees remain in place longer, improving retention and morale. Overall, it’s a huge win for your customers and business. Customers benefit from respectful team members who go above and beyond to meet their needs, and your company benefits from repeat sales, customer retention, and glowing reviews.
For example, at Etech, servant leadership continuously improves our overall performance.