True leadership is rare…
Great leadership is even rarer – but you know it when you see it. Some lead by the strength of the values and example – Tony Dungy comes to mind. Then there are those like Steve Jobs who are innovation leaders. Then there are servant leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr, and companies like Southwest Airlines, The Container Store, FedEx, and Starbucks.
Want to set your organization apart? Consider fostering a culture of servant leadership. Servant leadership encompassing everyone from the rank and file to the C Suite can create a culture where everyone is engaged and working toward a common goal. Organizations with servant leadership have higher employee engagement and increased staff retention.
It begs to question – what is servant leadership? Servant leaders focus on others: helping them grow, feel purposeful, engaged, and contributing to their highest level. Traditional or leader-first leadership focuses on the self – accumulating and using power, financial gain, and controlling actions. Servant leaders look to use their skills and leadership to benefit the needs of the organization and others.
What does servant leadership look like in practice?
Servant leadership develops and aligns an employee’s purpose to the company’s mission.
Servant leadership looks at employees individually. That means the organization’s goal is to hire the right person for the right job, skill up existing employees, and design a people management strategy that aligns with their business strategy.
Servant leadership acknowledges the uniqueness of the individual.
Each person is unique, with communication styles and reward mechanisms that are unique to them. By really knowing a person’s head, heart, and briefcase, the employee feels valued and appreciated. This, in turn, leads to higher employee engagement, and the employee is invested in the work that they do.
Servant leadership encourages independent thinking and innovation.
Servant leaders explain the “why” and not the “how.” This allows the employee to think independently, use their talents and skills to problem solve, and improve. Servant leadership is the opposite of micro-management.
Servant leadership encourages employee career development.
Because servant leaders consider the individuals’ needs, an employee’s continued career growth and development are considered a part of their employment. Employers make investments to ensure employees gain new and useful skills that will enable future job growth.
Servant leadership requires high emotional intelligence.
There is a reason soft skills are becoming more commonly known as essential skills. Employees are hired for their experience and fired for their lack of soft skills. As such, servant leaders focus on communication, empathy, collaboration and teamwork, relationship management, and encouraging others within themselves and the people around them. Servant leaders seek to know, understand, and encourage those around them to be of service to others and the organization’s needs.
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