Why servant leadership is vital to leading effectively
I often here people share how they want to do more charity work and wish they had more time to do outside of work. The reality is we DO have the opportunity to do service work with our colleagues every day.
You may have heard the team a servant leader. The idea of servant leadership is that the typical hierarchy where employees are supposed to serve their leaders is turned upside down. Instead, leaders serve their people. The word ‘servant’ has traditionally been depicted as a lowly, negative position, yet as Meriam-Webster dictionary defines it, it is a person who is devoted to or guided by something.
What employee would not want to work for a leader that is devoted to helping them and the company? I believe that truly is the difference between a leader and a boss.
In his book, The Culture Engine, organizational consultant S. Chris Edmonds says that servant leadership is the foundation for leading others effectively.
According to Edmonds, “servant leadership is a person’s dedication to helping others be their best selves at home, work, and in their community. Anyone can serve–and lead–from any position or role in a family, workplace, or community.” Culture drives everything that happens in an organization and team day to day – having a leader with the mindset and action that serves others, the company, customers, etc. promotes a great culture that drives performance, helping to attract and retain talent.
All servant leaders share two fundamental beliefs about the people they lead, and engage in five practices that put these beliefs into action.
Servant leaders believe that…
- Every person has value and deserves civility, trust, and respect
- People can accomplish much when inspired by a purpose beyond themselves.
According to Edmonds, the five practices of servant leaders include…
- Clarify and reinforce the need for service to others – Servant leaders educate the members of their team through their words and actions, and they encourage their people to set aside self-serving behaviors in favor of serving others.
- Listen intently and observe closely – Servant leaders really listen to people, and they actively solicit their participation, their ideas, and their feedback. In time, they get to know the perspective of each one of their employees, and they tailor their leadership approach accordingly.
- Act as selfless mentors – Servant leaders know that by helping to guide the people who work for them, they will help their employees learn vital skills that will both improve their performance, and improve them as people.
- Demonstrate persistence – Servant leaders realize that one or two conversations may not have the desired change in an employee’s assumptions or mindset. So they are tenacious and invest whatever time it takes to educate and inspire servant leadership practices in the members of their team.
- Respectfully hold themselves and others accountable for their commitments – Servant leaders know that no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes–including themselves. With that in mind, they push for high standards of performance, service quality, and alignment of values throughout the team, and they hold themselves and their people accountable for their performance.
At Aha! Leadership, we are proud to serve you… our clients, colleagues and friends. We are thankful for the opportunity to do so!
Source: “The Culture Engine” by S. Chris Edmonds