The term 'servant leadership' refers to leaders who put the welfare of those in the organization first, instead of primarily focusing on being a central figure within that organization. This style of leadership is a top-down approach where the leader focuses on the people directly below them to ensure growth in skill, autonomy and knowledge, as well as their health and wellbeing. Instead of focusing primarily on their job and career, servant leaders understand that other components are required for their employees to contribute to the success of the company.
Many believe that business leaders who focus on the employees are more likely to produce a skilled, talented, knowledgeable, and relevant workforce. These highly motivated employees will in turn help the organization to deliver superior services and products. This leadership style is becoming very popular in the world and is adopted by various top-ranking organizations.
The term “servant leadership” was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as a Leader”.
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”
All servant leaders share the same characteristics. The best part of all is that anyone can be a servant leader. You don’t need to wait till you’re in a position of power to start demonstrating these 10 key characteristics to put servant leadership into action.
Active listening is at the core of servant leadership. Have a deep commitment in wanting to understand what is being said. Servant leaders want to know what their people think and how they feel about issues. Because they want to help their people succeed, it is essential that they look at every detail and every gesture done by each of their people.
After listening and understand, servant leaders feel for their people and strive to see their perspective. They put ego aside and try hard to fulfil the needs and wants of their people.
As people with different experiences, it’s easy to latch onto past toxic reactions and habits. A servant leader takes an objective attitude at work and makes sure that their people have access to the resources needed to improve their emotional health. They understand that work-life balance is essential and goes out of their way to ensure their people have the tools required to succeed, not just in the workplace but as a person.
This should be a staple for anyone in a leadership role. A servant leader has the ability to self-reflect. To take inventory of their own strengths and weakness, to be honest about their limitations and to understand how they can position themselves to benefit their team as well as to see opportunities to leverage their team’s strengths for the betterment of the team.
This is the ability to encourage and to motivate. A servant leader is capable of building consensus and to gain buy-in from their team. They understand that everyone in the team should have a stake in the overall success of the team.
A servant leader sees the big picture and understand where they and the company stand in all of it. They can dream of a big dream and are capable of charting the course, developing long-term strategies that can keep their team motivated and focused.
Going hand-in-hand with the last characteristic, a servant leader can use their experience to anticipate future events and to figure out how to mitigate possible problems before they happen.
Being accountable for their actions and leading by example. A servant leader sets the tone and walks the talk, giving the team a good role model to follow through demonstrated values and behaviors.
This is an investment in people. Servant leaders understand that the growth and development of the company is in direct correlation with their people. Having personal and professional development build into the culture of the company so that mutual goals are created and easily achieved by individuals for the company. They know how to make it a win-win situation for everybody.
The essence of this is trust. Great teams are able to bond because their relationships are cultivated through trust. The servant leader can walk with and among their people, helping them build and develop a sense of community.
With the shenanigans you see in the business world today, it’s no surprise that Servant Leadership is gaining in popularity. As a servant leader, you understand that we’re all a work in progress. Work with empathy and know that your team will give you the best work possible.
Remember: you don’t have to be in a position of power to start adopting these fundamental rules of ethics. Everyone can lead by example and influence others.
Like birds of a feather, we work with servant leaders all the time. Want to create a lasting relationship that brings success to your business? Let Mad Creative Beanstalk know what you’re after and we can help you get the designs your brand deserves.