Servant Leadership: A Win for Everyone

Order Reprints

Are you a servant leader? If you are a servant leader, then you will “serve first.” According to polls, two-thirds of all workers are disengaged. Half of all employees would leave their jobs today, if they had something else to go to. The problem is not that people don’t like to work. All my life I have been around people who love their work and who get invigorated by what they do. The problem, then, is something else, and I believe it is often the company culture.

What is Your Culture?

Michael Jordan once noted, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” It was a lesson he had to learn from his coach Phil Jackson when he was starting with the Chicago Bulls. A superstar employee can only take you so far. To win championship rings, you need a team. Jackson has won nearly a dozen rings because he didn’t coddle his stars. He worked as a servant leader to properly position and empower every player on the team, so they could be the best they could be.

Are your employees a team? Are your “players” engaged in their work? What does “winning” look like for your business? And what does a servant leadership look like to you?

Servant Leadership = Serve First

Historically, leadership has been about power. The person at the top of the pyramid holds the highest rank and, as in many businesses, it is to be implicitly obeyed. What the boss wants is what the boss gets. Servant leadership is a completely different approach. The servant-leader puts the needs of the team first and helps them develop to their full potential. In short, the power of the pyramid comes from the bottom.

Servant leadership is not necessarily a new concept. The expression “servant leadership” was coined in 1970 by the AT&T executive Robert Greenleaf in an essay he published called “The Servant as Leader.” There he wrote: “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”

Do You Listen?

Servant leaders have good communication. By this, I mean two-way communication. Your door is open at all times, and you listen with an open mind to new ideas and, of course, your team’s concerns. This is motivating to your team when they are a part of the idea-sharing.

What are the attributes of inspirational leaders? Optimism. Humility. Passion. Integrity. When you truly care about your employees, they will know it. Motivational leaders inspire confidence, hope and a sense of trust, not fear. The question is, do the things you say de-motivate your team or motivate?

Every day, we are touching lives. As a servant leader, you are touching the lives of your team, and they are touching the lives of your customers. Every touch-point is one that can lift people up or bring people down. We already know there are too many things going on in this world that are bringing people down. Your leadership philosophy can be the point at which the tide is turned the other way.

Remember, perception is reality. Being the leader, you obviously have your own idea of how a situation happened or how things should go. However, do your best to think of things from their perspective. When you emotionally and physically put yourself in the other person’s shoes your actions and decisions may alter.

When we support our team, we create a positive atmosphere, boost morale and increase sales. The questions is, are you a servant leader? Do you aspire to be a servant leader? Are you dedicated to your team as much as you ask them to be dedicated to you?

Related Articles

Hands-On Training Makes a Difference

Unintended Consequences Drive GDI Engines to Your Shops: Knock, for Customers & Service Writers

Protect Your Customers’ Investments and Help Prevent Breakdowns

You must login or register in order to post a comment.