Leadership is a skill associated with decision-making, conviction, and persistence. In worst-case scenarios, leadership may be enforced through fear, discipline, and oppression. These are all strong qualities. Yet, the dedication to service is hardly ever a hot topic in the subject of leadership. Servant leadership is in truth, harder than most standard management models.
The term servant leadership was coined in 1970 by author Robert K. Greenleaf, and represents the growth and development of a leader through four distinct characteristics.
Servant leaders assume a disparate role compared to traditional leaders who prize the legacy and achievements of the organisation over the desire to provide, deliver, and to serve. The latter compares success to a destination while the former considers success an endless voyage of deep fulfillment.
The dedication to service allows servant leaders to put everyone else before them. They are disinterested in hogging the spotlight, choosing instead to provide workers with the stage to bring out the best in themselves. Servant leaders may not be the ideal persona for everyone, but only because their meekness is often misinterpreted as weakness.
There are many ways that a servant leader can redefine an organisation for the better – especially during times of unexpected disruption, through honing four crucial elements of character.
Understand the Value of Service
Servant leaders improve themselves by observing how others react to them. This outward-looking process involves consistent training in self-awareness. Servant leaders never apply any form of manipulation towards achieving a personal gain.
For example, servant leaders may seek constant feedback from staff of all levels, including new hires. They’re always on the lookout for fresh perspectives on a procedure or direction. The opinions of others help them avoid short-sighted decisions and open doors to a wider range of possibilities.
Servant leaders are dedicated to the art of mentoring. They have the natural desire to optimise the skills and abilities of those around them. Servant leaders are in essence, teachers. They’re always prepared to guide employees who require assistance. However, rather than spoon-feeding, they’re there to teach others how to take care of themselves.
The 2020 Workplace, a primer on modern management, reports that coaching and mentoring is one of the top things millennials (which make up the largest percentage of the current active workforce) value in their bosses.
Servant leadership is strengthened by harmonising the output from various sources, including staff, clients, corporate partners, sponsors, and so on. This should not be confused with diffused responsibility – a servant leader makes the final decision, but only upon consulting and consolidating the needs of others involved in a process.
The outcome of a decision should satisfy the needs of other relevant parties involved.
Servant leaders possess a foresight that is steered towards helping others. Foresight is more substantial than guesswork, conducted with greater accuracy. The skill is constantly refined by the leader’s genuine interest in learning from the needs and opinions of others – and hence, providing an effective solution.
Servant leaders are especially impactful during times of crisis. Their unwavering passion for employee-first management makes them inspirational role-models through the hardest times.
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