When we think of great leaders, we think of people like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. But what made these leaders so great? Was it their charisma? Their vision? Their ability to inspire others?
“He knew how to lead by listening and teaching.” — Erwin C. Hargrove.
A professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, Hargrove wrote this about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a President who encouraged the American people during a difficult time of social upheaval — the Great Depression.
Leadership is all about becoming a better version of ourselves. And those who teach without listening, share their own preferences as if though those preferences were wisdom.
Servant leadership tells a different story. This philosophy ennobles the leader and elevates those who are led. It is not about being in charge, but rather about taking care of those entrusted to your care.
In this article, we’ll discuss what servant leadership is, why it’s an essential philosophy for every entrepreneur, and the ten principles that make up the qualities of a servant leader.
What Exactly is Servant Leadership?
Servant leadership is a leadership practice with serving others at its center. It puts the needs of other people first and works to help them reach their fullest potential.
It’s a philosophy and a set of principles that aims to enrich the life and well-being of those who follow servant leaders, as well as improve the communities and organizations they serve.
The servant leadership model was first proposed by Robert Greenleaf in 1970. In his essay, “The Servant as Leader,” Greenleaf said that a servant leader is a person who “serves first and leads second.”
He wrote that servant leaders are driven by a desire to serve others and make a positive difference in the world.
Since Greenleaf’s initial proposal, the servant leadership model has been embraced by organizations in all sectors of society, from businesses and government to nonprofits and education.
Why Should Servant Leadership be a Philosophy?
There are many reasons why servant leadership is such an effective philosophy. One key reason is that it helps create a more positive and dynamic work environment.
When employees feel like their leaders are genuinely interested in their well-being and development, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work.
Additionally, servant leaders tend to be very good at communication and building relationships, which can further improve morale and teamwork.
Servant leaders are typically very focused on creating win-win situations, which means they are always looking for ways to benefit both the organization and its employees. This can help create a more sustainable business model that is not built on exploitation or taking advantage of others.
Ultimately, servant leadership is an extremely effective philosophy because it helps create a happier and more profitable workplace while also promoting sustainable and ethical business practices. This combination of benefits is why servant leadership is becoming increasingly popular in today’s business world.
The 10 Principles of Servant Leadership
So what are the key principles of servant leadership?
- Listening: The servant leader must be a good listener. This involves not just hearing what is being said but also taking the time to understand the needs and concerns of others.
- Empathy: A servant leader must be able to empathize with those they are leading. This means being able to understand and share their feelings.
- Healing: Servant leaders must be able to help heal the wounds of those they are leading. This may involve providing emotional support or helping to resolve conflict.
- Awareness: The servant leader must be aware of the needs of those they are leading. This includes being aware of their own needs as well as the needs of others.
- Persuasion: A servant leader must be able to persuade others to follow their lead. This may involve convincing others of the merits of their ideas or vision.
- Conceptualization: Servant leaders must be able to conceptualize the needs of those they are leading. This means being able to see the big picture and understanding how various elements fit together.
- Foresight: The servant leader must be able to see the future and anticipate the needs of those they are leading. This may involve planning for future events or trends.
- Stewardship: A servant leader must be a good steward of the resources they have been given. This includes using these resources in a way that benefits those they are leading.
- Commitment: Servant leaders must be committed to the growth and development of those they are leading. This means providing opportunities for people to learn and grow.
- Building Community: Lastly, servant leaders must work to build community among those they are leading. This may involve creating a sense of belonging or connection among team members.
When you can stay true to these ten principles, servant leadership can be a very effective way to lead others. It allows you to focus on the needs of those you are leading and create an environment where people can thrive.
Qualities of an Effective Servant Leader
Sure, following the principles mentioned is going to take your leadership to a whole new level, but they are nothing without proper execution.
To get even deeper into the nitty-gritty, we’ll go over the characteristics of servant leadership, and how you can start refining your skills to become one.
Encourage other points of view
A servant leader should never shy away from hearing other opinions, no matter how much they may disagree with them.
In fact, they should encourage dissenting voices, so that the best decision can be arrived at. This way of leading by example can result in a more productive and cohesive team.
Create a trusting environment
One of the most important qualities of a servant leader is the ability to create an environment built on trust.
This type of atmosphere allows team members to feel comfortable sharing their ideas, thoughts, and suggestions without fear of reprisal.
It’ll effectively build a culture that communicates in a positive, constructive way which is great for team morale and enhances the likelihood of success.
A servant leader should always be focused on the needs of their team or organization, rather than their own.
This selfless attitude helps to build trust and respect amongst employees/team members as it shows you genuinely care about their success and wellbeing.
Encourage others to take the lead
Servant leaders should not feel the need to be in the spotlight all the time. Instead, they should encourage others to take the lead on projects and tasks.
This helps to develop leadership skills in others and also allows the servant leader to focus on other aspects of their job.
When employees are given the freedom to harness their skills and attain career growth opportunities, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work.
Why Should Entrepreneurs be Servant Leaders?
Servant leaders come in all shapes, sizes, demographics, and genders. They’re gentle, strong, and confident individuals who are passionate about helping others reach their potential.
So, why should entrepreneurs be servant leaders? There are many reasons, but here are some of the most important ones:
Increases your productivity
When your team is being led by servant leadership, you will find that your productivity as a team will increase.
This is due to the fact that you will be working together for a common goal, and not just for yourself. Now, when we say that, we aren’t calling anyone self-involved — it simply means that you are acting with more intention to work as a team.
As busy business owners, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we are working with other people. This is where servant leadership comes in to help you remember that we are all in this together, which not only drastically improves productivity but enhances the efficiency of your system as a whole.
Servant leadership has been shown to increase participation from team members, as they feel more valued and appreciated.
This is because servant leaders place an emphasis on the needs of their team, and work to create an environment where everyone can contribute and succeed.
It makes employees feel much more secure and comfortable in their position and boosts confidence levels.
This type of leadership has also been found to increase creativity and innovation, as employees feel more free to share their ideas.
Improves employee retention
There are many reasons why servant leadership is important for improving employee retention.
First, when employees feel like they are valued and their opinions matter, they are more likely to stay with a company.
Secondly, servant leaders create a supportive environment where employees can succeed. This type of environment is essential for retaining top talent.
Finally, servant leaders are typically good at communicating vision and motivating employees to achieve goals. When employees feel inspired by their leaders, it makes them loyal to the company and strive towards leadership roles themselves.
Creates a solid employer reputation
When all of your employees are happy to be by your side, you’ve built a strong employer brand.
By investing in servant leadership, you can create an environment where everyone feels like their voices are heard and they’re being treated fairly.
Your company will reap the benefits of having a solid reputation as an employer, which will make it easier to attract top talent. The highest skilled employees will see the positive attributes of your company and want to be a part of it.
Better yet, your employees themselves can become brand advocates that recommend open positions to friends and past colleagues, or promote them on LinkedIn.
Boosts Morale of your Team
Nobody wants to work somewhere that is as lifeless and miserable as a graveyard. As a servant leader, you can help to create a positive work environment that will encourage your team members to enjoy coming to work each day.
By taking the time to get to know your team, showing appreciation for their contributions, and providing support when needed, you can create an atmosphere of trust and respect.
In turn, this will lead to increased morale and motivation, which can help your team to be more productive and successful.
There’s Always More to Learn
Servant leadership isn’t about every leader doing the same thing to achieve success. It’s about harnessing the special skills and qualities you have to offer through the philosophy and principles servant leadership provides.
That’s why at Wizard of Sales®, want to help you learn more about what makes you unique as a leader. We can provide resources, tools, and advice so that you can grow into your role as a servant leader and make an impact in your community.
Every servant leader knows there is always more to learn — and we can help you out with that.
Book a demo with us today to get started!
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