July 27, 2022

servant leadership

Servant leadership is a way of leading that focuses on putting the needs of others first. Servant leadership evolved from the idea that leaders should serve those they lead. Research shows this type of leadership enhances moral development, increases job satisfaction, and improves commitment amongst followers.

Servant leadership is not a new concept; it is a philosophy that has been observed throughout the ages. However, it is a concept that is becoming more and more relevant in today's modern society as we evolve beyond the principles of survival of the fittest.

Companies the world over have demonstrated for years that servant leadership can be used to drive and achieve success. However, despite these successes, servant leadership is not the dominant style seen in mainstream business. This is due in part to preconceived ideas about how people in leadership positions should behave – represented by the archetypal leader who is always right, company-focused, and profit motivated. These ideas do not match with the values of servant leadership, which are focused on serving others and putting their needs first.

The concept of servant leadership arose from the thoughts of Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990) after he retired from America Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1954, where he had a significant role in shaping the organisation's structure and culture. Many changes had been made, but no one had established a fundamental core understanding of what the organisation was trying to achieve. Greenleaf credited people, not rigid rules and procedures, as the key to achieving organisational goals. He also observed that leadership is not so much a position within an organisation, but a behavioural pattern of influence. Lastly, he noticed that leadership requires an advantage over followers – of expertise, power, knowledge, and unique talents.

Servant leadership emphasises the idea that there is no separation between the concerns of leaders and followers. Leaders cannot be concerned about themselves without considering the needs of others as well. This approach demands that leaders put their followers first. Servant leadership aims for independence through interdependence and develops total human acceptance and satisfaction through service to others, rather than money or fame.

Key principles of servant leadership include:

  1. Let the servant lead by serving followers rather than being served: servant leadership requires that leaders begin by putting the needs of others first. The leader helps those who are led and asks that they serve in return. If the leader is serving first, followers will be more likely to serve. In this way, a primary goal is to help others grow as much as possible while encouraging them to help you. This idea promotes a sense of cooperation and teamwork within an organisation.
  2. Leadership is about linking followers' needs to the leader's vision: The leader's responsibility is to bring the organisation into step with its vision and values. By helping people see how their work contributes toward achieving the vision, leaders should ensure that others clearly understand what is expected from them. This requires communicating expectations; linking work, behaviour, and performance to important outcomes; setting standards for behaviours; delegating responsibilities; and coaching to help others achieve standards.
  3. Leadership must be goal oriented: The leader's job is to set goals – that is, expectations of what can be achieved – and then work to make them happen by helping others realise their potential. In this way, followers understand their role in achieving the organisation's goals. Leaders can have different levels of involvement in setting and reaching their goals, but they must communicate their desire to help others achieve the desired results.
  4. Leadership must value people over things: While the leader values their skills and abilities, they must not be used to exclude other people and their needs. Servant leadership focuses on "getting" things done rather than "having" something. Leaders must understand that they are an asset to followers and should therefore always keep learning.
  5. Leadership develops group identity: This principle is perhaps the most challenging of all principles because it demands self-examination regarding your self-worth.

In summary, there are many advantages to having a confident and responsible leader who continues to learn and grow, while maintaining an inclusive posture that encourages growth in their team.

If you would like to learn how to become a servant leader, then the LLP|360 is a great place to start.


July 27, 2022

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