How does servant leadership change organisations?

Servant leadership (SL) produces high performance and employee engagement. Senior leaders who are not SL and lack business ethics have led to negative results. The fruits of this labour are plentiful, say servant leadership advocates. Empowered staff will perform at a high and innovative level.

Employees feel more engaged and motivated, which in turn increases organisational retention and reduces turnover costs. Well-trained and trusted employees continue to develop as future leaders, helping to ensure the long-term viability of the organisation. Strong leaders lead through influence rather than authority, and earn the right to lead through their actions. Employing the key aspects of servant leadership enables you and your employees to be more engaged in the work and perform at higher and more enduring levels.

The servant leadership style is based on the idea that leaders prioritise serving the common good. Leaders with this style serve their team and the organisation first. They do not prioritise their own goals. Academic pharmacy is immersed in a sea of constant change.

Internal influences, such as interprofessional education or enhanced learning environments, and external influences, such as new accreditation requirements, expanded scope of practice, and availability of research funding, are driving change, 1-5 Effective leadership is needed to guide students, faculty members, and staff. Leaders are challenged to continually align goals for the success of the institution with the personal ideals of individual employees, particularly in matters related to promotion and tenure, 6 Servant leadership and transformational leadership, which have been around since the 1970s, both claim they can successfully navigate change, 7,8 We explored these two leadership styles to assess which is best suited for the academic pharmacy environment. Trust is a prerequisite for servant leaders, because leaders must trust that employees are worth serving and that they, and the organisation, will benefit from their service. This ability enables a transformational leader to change inefficient financial, educational or human resource systems more aggressively than followers of a servant leadership model would tolerate.

A servant leader asks open-ended, follow-up questions as a matter of course, not just when something is wrong. Finally, by cultivating the characteristics of servant leadership, project managers increase the potential of individuals and teams to achieve the goals that play an important role in their company's growth. Servant leaders build relationships with staff primarily by listening attentively and asking lots of questions about everything from the employee's background to detailed questions about their assessment of the company's business environment, Spivey explains. During onboarding, after initial introductions, familiarisation conversations and explanations of how operations work, the servant leader should solicit the new employee's observations, impressions and opinions, says Timmes.

This is based on building influence and authority rather than using control tactics and toxic leadership. However, academic pharmacy, where challenges constantly arise from students, community stakeholders and the healthcare system, represents the type of dynamic environment for which transformational leadership is an ideal fit. The differences between transformational and servant leadership models have important implications for organisational change management. Key words include leadership style, servant leader, transformational leader, servant leadership, servant leadership and transformational leadership.

Although the idea of servant leadership has ancient roots, Robert Greenleaf launched the modern servant leadership movement in 1970. By applying the servant leadership framework to organisational change, project managers can more successfully manage the transformation process. Experts offer a number of best practice suggestions for senior executives aspiring to become successful servant leaders. Rapid change, unpredictability and the need for agility have highlighted the need for leaders to support and empower an innovative and adaptable workforce.

Jason Klingler
Jason Klingler

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