Servant Leadership - How to Meet the Needs of Your Team in 2022 and Beyond.
What Is Servant Leadership?
We often hear about “servant leadership.” What does it mean, exactly? How does servant leadership differ from other types of leadership?
The phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as a Leader.” However, people have used it for centuries.
Servant leaders put other people’s needs before their own, especially their teams. As a leader, you acknowledge other people’s perspectives, support them to meet their goals, involve them in appropriate decisions, and foster a sense of community. The result is more engagement, trust, and better relationships among team members and stakeholders. Additionally, it can increase innovation.
As such, servant leadership is not a style or technique of leadership. Instead, it is a way of behaving that you adopt over time.
Hierarchical, autocratic cultures are incompatible with servant leadership since managers and leaders make all the decisions. Here, servant leaders may struggle to earn respect.
Traditional Leadership Vs. Servant Leadership
Traditional leadership in business is an old-school approach where the leader gives orders and expects everyone to follow them without asking questions because they are the boss. They tell their team members what to do and when to do it.
It is based on hierarchy and authority rather than collaboration and communication. There is little room for innovation and experimentation.
The problem with traditional leadership is that it doesn’t foster trust between employees and managers. People become afraid to ask questions and speak out when they feel wronged.
This can result in low morale and poor performance across the board.
Servant leadership is not a title or a position. Servant leaders are those who lead because they serve.
It’s an approach to leading where you focus more on helping people succeed rather than making yourself look good. The goal is for everyone to feel valued, respected, and cared for. This means that your team members aren’t afraid to make mistakes, admit when they have made them, ask for help, or listen to feedback.
The servant leader doesn’t set out to be liked. They set out to change lives and create a better world. They are committed to serving the best interests of those they lead. Their actions reflect their values, guiding their behavior and interaction with others.
A servant leader may be a manager, supervisor, teacher, coach, mentor, parent, or spouse. But whatever role they play, the key is that they can step back and let others shine.
What Are the Principles of Servant Leadership?
Servant leadership isn’t about making yourself look great in front of your team. It’s about helping them succeed and succeeding together. It’s about empowering your team members to make decisions, even when those decisions may not be popular. It’s often easier to tell someone how to do their job rather than show them. But when you empower people to learn and grow, you help everyone succeed.
The principles of servant leadership are based on trust, transparency, respect, humility, and service. Together these principles create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued. For leaders to follow these principles, they must model them themselves—not just in words but also in actions. Leaders show their followers they are valued by listening to them and giving them opportunities to lead.
Servant leaders demonstrate respect by seeing each team member as a valuable contributor within the organisation. They recognise each person’s strengths and weaknesses and give them appropriate assignments and feedback.
Servant Leader Characteristics
A key characteristic of servant leaders is their ability to empower subordinates. This means giving them responsibility and allowing them to exercise discretion while maintaining accountability.
A servant leader focuses on helping others succeed. Because they believe that success depends on the quality of the relationships among coworkers, they encourage cooperation and build trust within the organisation.
Finally, a servant leader exhibits unconditional positive regard for others. To motivate others, they show respect and appreciation without expecting reciprocity.
Servant Leadership: How to Develop It1.
You will serve people better when you listen more than they talk. Give people your full attention, ask questions, seek information, and learn from their team members. Be open-minded and flexible.
Understanding others’ intentions and perspectives is the goal of servant leaders. By valuing others’ perspectives, putting aside your viewpoint temporarily, and approaching situations with an open mind, you can become more empathetic.
Self-awareness is about examining yourself, thinking deeply about your emotions and behavior, considering their impact on others, and aligning with your values.
To become self-aware, it is essential to know your strengths and weaknesses and ask for feedback. Consider how your actions and behaviors might affect other people and how you manage your emotions.
A servant leader uses persuasion rather than authority to get people to act. Consequently, they strive to build group consensus, so everyone is on the same page with the action plan.
To persuade or inspire others, you must also build expertise – when people see you as an expert, they will be more likely to be influenced by your words.
Taking responsibility for the actions and performance of your team and holding your team members accountable is what governance is all about.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a formal leader or not; you’re responsible for what happens in your organization. Know what you will and will not stand for based on your own values and those of your organisation. Lastly, demonstrate the values and behaviors you want to see in others, and have the confidence to stand up to people who act in ways you disagree with.
6. Dedicated to people’s growth
A servant leader encourages the personal and professional development of everyone on their team. To help them achieve their goals, they find out their personal goals and assign them projects or additional responsibilities.
KS Key Points
As a servant leader, you put others’ needs before yours. As opposed to a technique that can be used in specific situations, it’s a long-term way of thinking about leadership. It allows it to be used with other leadership styles, such as transformational leadership.
Those who serve others are likely to have more engaged employees and enjoy better relationships with their team members and stakeholders.