Everyone talks of Servant Leadership but do we really know what Servant Leadership is? In this article, we explore the Art of Servant Leadership and how we can benefit from it.
Each one of us thinks that servanthood is an activity carried out by people with low skill levels, at the bottom of the organizational flow chart. We think when we serve people they tend to have a lower opinion of us in their minds.
However, this is not true. When we serve people they are drawn towards us and they look at us as adding value to their lives. Who was the greatest servant of all time? It is none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who came to serve humans and exhibited the attitudes and values of a true servant leader.
He created a convincing vision of a better future, got people to believe in that vision to follow Him, develop and trained multiple leaders, and executed the vision perfectly. Though Jesus was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords He did come to the world to be served but to serve. The humility and love Jesus exhibited shaped and fueled every relationship He nurtured on this Earth.
What is Servant Leadership?
Leadership is not a new concept. There have been numerous leadership theories and leadership styles from the beginning of time. But, when our Lord Jesus came to Earth, He flipped the narrative of leadership on its head by introducing the concept of Servant Leadership and exhibiting its practicality.
Servant Leadership embodies a set of practices that focuses on the growth of individuals, sets people up for success, places people ahead of power, puts the needs of the team first, builds responsive organizations, and creates a more just and caring world.
Before we start looking into the principles of servant leadership, let us first know the difference between traditional and servant leaders.
Traditional Vs. Servant Leadership
10 Principles of Servant Leadership
Jesus Christ’s principles and His walk on earth teach us that servant leadership means submitting to a higher purpose beyond personal interests, using courageously the power given to serve others, serving others’ needs meticulously, inviting feedback from followers and implementing them impartially, and developing followers to become servant leaders.
Follow these 10 principles of servant leadership to ensure best results when working with teams.
- Empathy — Servant leadership requires leaders to understand with compassion other people’s intentions and perspectives without any judgment or criticism. Leaders need to accept and recognize people for their unique spirit and the reasoning behind their actions. Leaders need to put aside their viewpoint temporarily and approach situations with an open mind. Leaders have to learn their team members’ strengths and weaknesses and let them shine.
- Healing — Servant leadership has the potential to heal one self as well as others. Healing brings transformation and integration. Many people come from previous jobs that have toxic work environments. A servant leader can help them heal by providing a healthier work environment that has work-life balance built in. Healing also relates to emotional health of people by providing them the necessary knowledge, support, and resources needed to perform their jobs efficiently and assisting them to be happy and engaged in their roles.
- Listening — Servant leadership requires deep commitment to listen intently to others. Servant leaders need to listen receptively without interruption and clarify the doubts of others. They have to understand the logic behind the decision making of team members and provide a resolution that suits the best interests of the team. They must also be conscious to notice what is not being said by the team members by taking notice of their body language. Connecting the dots for a structured and inclusive strategy is an important aspect of servant leadership.
- Awareness — Servant leadership demands that leaders take stock of their team’s strengths and weaknesses. When they recognize the team’s limitations, it will enable them to leverage the team’s collective strengths that will lead to balance in the team. Being aware will enable leaders to discern how people’s emotions and behaviors affect the people around them. Awareness enables leaders to know issues relating to work ethics, values, and power. It also provides the ability to analyze and make decisions from a balanced point of view.
- Persuasion — Servant leadership uses persuasion rather than positional authority in making decisions. Traditional organizations coerce compliance by using various disciplinary measures and demands. Servant leaders seek to convince others and build consensus and get buy-in from the team. That way, the leader ensures that every group member has a stake in the team’s success. Servant leaders use communication to uncover appropriate actions and take unanimous decisions without taking advantage of others or damaging existing relationships. Servant leaders need to exercise their expert power as people are more likely to listen to experts when they persuade them.
- Conceptualization — Conceptualization in servant leadership means thinking of future growth opportunities through innovative foresight without losing focus on the present. Servant leadership provides the ability to look beyond day-to-day realities and think about where the organization could be in the next five to 10 years. Leaders have to nurture abilities to look at problems from a visual perspective and seek a balance between conceptualization and day-to-day activities. Servant leaders need to create the mission and vision statements that connect people’s roles with the organization’s long-term goals. This will motivate teams to seamlessly achieve goals without distractions, which will essential for organizational success. Remember, servant leadership helps to keep the big picture in mind without losing focus on the daily tasks.
- Diversity of Thought — Servant leadership encourages a diversity of thoughts. It means simply thinking differently about a common problem so an appropriate solution would emerge. A diverse team ensures a wide range of views are considered and fosters engagement and innovation. People want to be a part of a diverse team as it leads to thinking outside the box and every perspective is considered when moving forward. One person does not decide the outcome in a diverse team but the final decision is a collaboration of ideas from different people with every team member contributing to the end result.
- Stewardship — Servant leadership embodies stewardship that is the responsibility an organization has not only to its workforce but also for the society. Leaders have to truly consider the best interests of society as a whole. Servant leadership encourages companies to be stewards for fair labor practices, healthy environmental policies, and also fiduciary responsibility. Stewardship involves optimal planning and management of resources of an organization. Servant leaders have to be accountable for the roles of team members and take responsibility for their actions and performance. They have to lead by example by exhibiting the values that the company stands for and demonstrate behaviors that they want their team members to adopt. Simply put, servant leaders should not ask people to do things they would not do themselves. Also, they have to stand up to people who do not follow the company’s policies and guidelines.
- Culture of Trust — One of the core elements of servant leadership is creating a culture of trust. Servant leaders need to communicate clearly to their team the overall vision and mission of the organization. Communication needs to reach every level of the organization from top to bottom. Servant leaders have to be transparent and lead with a clear purpose so that everyone follows them. If the leader is transparent it builds trust among the team members and this leads to ideal work performance. Trust is earned and not given. So, once it is broken it is very hard to regain. Servant leaders need to earn their team’s trust and inculcate the company values and priorities among the workforce.
- Commitment to the Growth of People — Servant leadership requires leaders to commit to helping others realize their potential and dreams. The personal and professional development of every team member should be an important objective of the servant leader. Servant leaders should find out the team members’ personal goals and assign them projects and responsibilities that will help achieve them. Servant leadership needs leaders to create a work environment that motivates employees and provides them the skills necessary to do their jobs efficiently. 360-degree performance reviews can be conducted each year to have a wholesome performance report and identify meaningful growth opportunities. Servant leaders need to understand that profits cannot be generated without a happy and evolving workforce. Servant leaders have to show their level of commitment and work ethics to their team members so that they are inspired by them and follow their leader’s example. Remember, companies can surpass their yearly goals with a committed and determined workforce.
Servant leadership is the need of the hour. Servant leadership is necessary for building inclusive, transparent, adaptable, and collaborative organizations. Servant leadership enables leaders to build a sense of community within their organization. A community that works together to attain goals while motivating and aiding others. Servant leaders need to foster leadership in others by coaching and mentoring. They need to have an unselfish mind and facilitate the success of others, making their team members feel valued. This will allow servant leaders to scale their business for the benefit of the individual, organization, and society.
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