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The idea of servant leadership might sound new to you, but it has been around for centuries, if not longer. Wondering what it is and why should it be the topmost priority for your business? Read on to learn all about it.
When it comes to effective leadership, it’s common knowledge that effective leaders set clear goals and objectives, craft a vision for the future, and provide top-notch inspiration to the team so that they can work and perform at their best. Simply put, an effective leader is strategic, accountable, adaptable, and helps in the best possible ways to build healthy relationships with others. With that being said, let’s look at servant leadership and how it is different from traditional ideas on leadership.
Traditional Leadership Approaches Vs. Servant Leadership
When it comes to the traditional leadership approach, you need to remember that they are often focused on the authority and control of a leader over their subordinates. Leaders of this approach are often use dictator leadership style, and their main goal is to simply get the job done, no matter what. The Traditional leadership approach is known to work in hierarchy system, where the higher authorities make decisions and tasks or work is delegated to the subordinates.
On the other hand, servant leadership focuses on the leaders’ service to those under them. This approach emphasizes the role of the leader in supporting and empowering their subordinates. Leaders in this approach are often facilitative, and their agenda is to help those they lead grow and develop in the best possible ways.
Who are Servant Leaders?
Servant leaders are strategic, collaborative, and intentional. They are committed to building relationships with their team members. They seek to give them opportunities to express themselves and they also aim to connect with them emotionally. They respect the uniqueness of their followers and believe in the importance of understanding them to help them grow and excel.
Core Principles and Values of Servant Leadership
There are three core principles of servant leadership.
- A Servant leader is for others and not for themself. Their main job is to serve their followers, not just rule over them. A servant leader makes it a practice to listen to their followers, to understand their needs and feelings, and to know when to delegate tasks.
- Servant leaders look for winnable solutions, engaging relationships, and open communication with subordinates. When solving problems, every effort is made to ensure that unity is preserved.
- Servant leaders are guides and push themselves and others towards their goals. They care about the team and what it can do for them. They focus on creating an inclusive environment, where people can express themselves freely without judgment or criticism.
Contrasting Servant Leadership with Traditional Leadership Styles
Servant leadership is different from traditional leadership in other ways too. Here are a few key contrasts.
- Personality type: Traditional leaders place great emphasis on themselves and their own ideas. Servant leaders, on the other hand, place more importance on the needs and wants of the people they work with. They will have their own opinions but they believe that it is important that they participate in decision-making processes and serve their followers rather than being top-down workers who prefer one-directional control over their team.
- Communication style: Servant leaders are very open to two-way communication with their subordinates. They make it a point to find win-win solutions and amiable relationships. They are known to empower their teams, create a collaborative environment to work in and help team members say “yes” more often.
- Rights and responsibilities: A servant leader believes that they, too have rights as well as responsibilities to their followers. They focus on providing assistance and support rather than only exercising authority over others. They strongly believe that the more they help their teams succeed, the more likely their own success will be in the long run.
The Benefits of Servant Leadership in the Workplace
- Creating a positive work culture – Servant leadership fosters a positive work culture. This is because the leader’s focus on empowering their followers helps them to develop more courage and confidence, feeling enabled to take risks more often. In addition, servant leaders also make sure that they come up with win-win solutions that allow both sides of the team to benefit.
- Building strong relationships – Servant leadership gives leaders the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with their followers. In other words, this approach allows them to develop sustainable and effective teams.
- Offering opportunities – Servant leaders make sure that their teams have all the opportunities they can handle. They support them in times of need and help them advance so that they can also take on greater challenges.
Examples of Servant Leadership in Action
There are many servant leaders from different walks of life who offer amazing examples of this approach. Some of the most popular ones include Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr.
How to Implementing Servant Leadership in Your Business
There are five clear steps that you can follow to implement servant leadership in your business. Think about what your goals are for the year and how you can help your team to achieve them through servant leadership.
- Know your team – This step involves identifying the kinds of people that you have in your organization. Servant leaders understand that with a right and effective approach, every employee has something positive to offer, so they make it a point to find out what kinds of people they are working with.
- Help them to grow – Servant leaders should do whatever they can to help their followers grow and develop. They ensure that they are given the space and time to try out new things, and given opportunities to become more confident in their abilities.
- Listen to needs and emotions – Servant leaders make it a point to listen whenever their followers share a problem or concern. They keep their minds open and try to understand what the problem is. They sit down with their followers and take the time to try to figure out a solution that works for everyone.
- Delegate well – Servant leaders delegate tasks more carefully. They figure out what the people on their teams need, find out if their skills match the job, and then decide who will handle what responsibilities.
- Control your emotions – Servant leaders understand that they must be careful with their feelings and emotions. They always make sure to remain calm and express their opinions in good faith.
Servant leadership is a way to manage and lead your team. This leadership style encourages teams to have a relationship with their leaders that is based on mutual respect, trust, and support. Followers are empowered and encouraged to tackle challenges on their own when needed. To excel as a servant leader, consider enrolling in B STATE’s leadership accountability training for long-term business success.
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This article was first published as a Forbes Coaches Council Post.