No, servant leadership is not about literally taking on the role of a servant. At first glance, you may think a servant leader is the one who opens the door for the employees and welcomes them to the office. But in reality, servant leadership is a management philosophy in which the leader places the interests and needs of the employees ahead of their own self-interests and needs.
Sounds like an oxymoron? Before you roll your eyes and start gambling “that’s too soft for my corporate setting,” let me tell you that some of the world’s most successful companies are embracing this leadership strategy. In fact, a recent study by the University of Illinois at Chicago Business School revealed that businesses with servant leadership do better than the traditional leadership models. So, if you want to boost the success of your business and build a positive corporate culture, servant leadership can be a great way to do that.
What exactly is Servant Leadership?
Through the idea of servant leadership is based on centuries-old principles, the phrase “servant leadership” was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his influential 1970 essay “The Servant As Leader” in 1970. Servant leadership turns the traditional leadership model completely upside down and puts the employees at the very top and the leader at the bottom.
With a serve-first mindset, servant leaders focus on empowering employees who work for them. They understand and support them instead of commanding, show humility instead of brandishing authority, and always strive to unlock potential, and sense of purpose in their team members.
Servant Leadership characteristics
Servant leadership is not as easy as it seems. It doesn’t come naturally to every leader either. In order to be an effective servant leader, you need to develop and practice the following skills.
Empathy plays an important role when it comes to instilling loyalty and trust in your team. Servant leaders temporarily put their viewpoints aside and try to understand other people’s intentions and perspectives. They approach situations with an open mind and model the opinions of others in the team.
A typical leader is often blissfully ignorant of what’s going on around them, but not the servant leader. Servant leaders care deeply about the wellbeing and personal and professional growth of each member of their team.
How can we forget Steve Jobs while talking about persuasion? He is regarded as a master of persuasion because of his ability to persuade his employees to meet seemingly impossible deadline goals. Rather than intimidating employees to follow orders, a good servant leader persuades and motivates them to accomplish the task.
- Focusing on Growth of People
Servant-leading entrepreneurs give importance to creating the right values and culture to the individuals within their organization and help them grow and develop.
- How Servant Leadership Can Benefit Your Business?
Servant leadership not only reaps great results but generates great sense of satisfaction for both employees and customers. Here are few more benefits that servant leadership can bring in to your organization.
- Stronger Team
Focusing more on people than the work process is the core principle of the servant leadership model. This breaks down the barriers and encourages team members to step up to the plate and become proactive to reach higher goals.
- Lower Turnover Rates
Every time an employee walks out the door of your business, they take the knowledge and experience provided by you to your competition. This affects the bottom-line of a business to a great extent. Poor management is one of the major reasons why employees leave the company. To encourage them to stay, you must create a healthy work environment where they will have the opportunity to grow and servant leadership model helps you to do that.
- More Cohesive Culture
Servant leadership instils trust and honesty within an organization. When employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns with their leader, it empowers them to perform their jobs with independence and integrity. This, in turn, builds a strong bond among the team members to turn to one another for help when needed.
- Enhanced Productivity
In contrast to micromanagement, the servant leadership model gives employees the freedom and flexibility to learn and explore. It develops a greater sense of job satisfaction in them and motivates them to be more productive in their day-to-day roles.
Servant leadership is not just a buzzword or a leadership method that can be implemented overnight. It is a practice that takes plenty of conscious thought and commitment to serve selflessly while controlling the impulse to lead by force.