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What is Servant Leadership?
Servant leadership is a business philosophy that emphasizes the act of the leader, such as a manager or supervisor, focusing on the growth and development of their employees and ensuring their success. In doing so, the leader succeeds when their employees do. In a business team, servant leadership cannot only help employees achieve and grow, but it can also benefit their leaders and the company as a whole.
It is a leader’s responsibility to guide their followers on the right path. But to become a better leader, it’s not enough just to take the wheel and steer – you must also be willing to serve your followers and assist them in their own journey. A servant leader should have a desire to serve their employees, which includes taking the time to identify your employees and how they perform or being beside them as they face challenges. Take the time to assist in their growth and help them work toward achieving their goals. Don’t be afraid to give yourself into their processes and become part of their evolvement.
As a leader, it is a common feeling to absorb the ‘power’ of the position and a have a sense of superiority. A servant leader does not save this power only for themselves because they learn to share it with their team of employees. Employees under a servant leader should feel some of the servant leader’s power and pull, which can make them feel more empowered in their place on the team and in their own abilities. Sharing the power allows employees to feel like their contributions matter and that their input is valued.
Share the power by:
- Asking employee opinions
- Working together on challenges or projects
- Taking a census, when possible
One of the main principles of servant leadership is the act of putting other’s needs ahead of your own. As a leader, we can sometimes think in the ‘ME’ mentality and want to focus on our own agenda and needs. But in servant leadership, the leader must focus on his team of employees first before focusing on themselves. The leader should focus on what the employee needs or wants, how they can achieve this and how it will make them successful in the long run. A leader should strive to develop relationships and even friendships with their employees and deliver feedback when possible. They must be able to set their own ego aside and realize that without their team of employees, no one can be successful.
Once again, as a leader, we can focus on our own goals, responsibilities and even our own challenges. But as a servant leader, the needs of the employee should come first and the main goal should be to help them succeed and grow in the company. A good leader knows that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so everyone benefits when every employee is encouraged, mentored and motivated. Sometimes this may mean you’ll have to share in successes as well as failures, but every goal set and worked together is another stepping stone for the employee and helps them work toward their ultimate target.
Help employees grow by:
- Encourage goals
- Give feedback when possible
- Listen to their questions and requests
- Offer help but don’t complete things for them
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They say that leaders are born, not made. While it is true that some people are born leaders, some leaders are born in the midst of adversity. Often, simple people who have never had a leadership role will stand up and take the lead when a situation they care about requires it. A simple example is parenting. When a child arrives, many parents discover leadership abilities they never knew existed in order to guide and protect their offspring. There are countless war stories of simple GI’s and sailors who rose to a challenge on their own in the heat of battle.
Clearly, leadership potential exists within each of us. That potential can be triggered by outside events, or it can be learned by exploring ourselves from within. This training takes the latter approach. Once you learn the techniques of true leadership, you will be able to build the confidence it takes to take the lead. The more experience you have acting as a genuine leader, the easier it will be for you. It is never easy to take the lead, as you will need to make decisions and face challenges, but it can become natural and rewarding.
Leadership is not telling others what to do. Leadership is inspiring others to do what needs to be done. Many people around the world who are in leadership positions are not leaders. Dictators call themselves leaders but they are not. There have been many presidents of the United States, but few were real leaders. Genuine leaders take a stand and motivate others to join them in a noble purpose. One such leader was Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery in the United States. Another was John F. Kennedy, who inspired a nation to go to the moon within a decade, and it did. General Patton had a completely different but no less effective leadership style. What is it that makes a leader, and what separates the good from the great?
Influence is subtle, yet incredibly powerful. You can order someone to do a task, but you cannot order them to do their best. It simply does not work and usually has the opposite effect. You can influence people to do their best by providing a strong, motivating example in addition to positive reinforcement. Leadership addresses tasks, while influence addresses attitudes and awareness. Influence is the soul of leadership.