Is servant leadership effective?

But while no person or approach is perfect, given the qualities that servant leaders exhibit, we believe it is safe to say that servant leadership is one of the most effective approaches to guiding employees towards an outcome that fosters growth, satisfaction and encouragement. Successful servant leaders have a genuine desire to serve employees in a democratic way. They are also effective, charismatic decision-makers and clear in setting expectations. Servant leaders strive to understand the intentions and perspectives of others.

One can be more empathetic by temporarily setting aside one's own point of view, valuing the perspectives of others and approaching situations with an open mind. It is important to understand that people are more likely to perform better if they are led by someone who nurtures and encourages them. Praise and encouragement can go a long way and are much more effective than punishment and negative feedback. Servant leadership is more relevant today than ever.

Today's leaders and employees preparing for leadership positions are seeing the positive effects that celebrating individuality, building a culture based on trust and implementing a vision that serves a higher purpose can have on an organisation. Good servant leaders are those whose primary focus is on people, which makes the leader fully committed to their growth and development. To develop people, it is important to analyse their needs and address them accordingly. A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.

However, servant leadership is problematic in hierarchical and autocratic cultures where managers and leaders are expected to make all decisions. It is a complement to democratic leadership styles and has similarities with transformational leadership - which is often the most effective style in business situations - and level 5 leadership, where leaders demonstrate humility in the way they work. It is based on creating influence and authority rather than using control tactics and toxic leadership. But traditional leadership can also produce non-inclusive teams, as it does not focus on the well-being of the people in them.

In his view, these characteristics are key to moving away from the autocratic and hierarchical leadership models of the past and replacing them with ones based on relationships and trust. A servant is not a leader according to traditional teachings, but by redefining and rediscovering what a leader is and does, you will see that the servant leader mindset is better suited to leading by developing strong relationships based on trust. The servant leader sets the direction for customer experience, safety, operational excellence and organic growth. Rather than telling people what to do, the role of the service leader is to ensure that the needs of their team are met.

With this leadership philosophy, the more you invest in scaffolding your team, the more productive your team will be. And don't rely on it alone: use it in conjunction with styles such as transformational leadership, where you develop an inspiring vision for the future, motivate people to deliver on it, manage its implementation and build an ever-stronger team. Regardless of age or generation, everyone is looking for purpose in the workplace, so it is no wonder that more and more business leaders are embracing servant leadership characteristics to achieve greater success for their organisations and the people who work in them. Servant leaders believe that this approach reveals the untapped creative and performance capabilities of people, especially their own.

Darryl Spivey, a faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) who trains executives in servant leadership, says that asking the right questions is the secret sauce of great coaching, and is crucial for servant leaders. Greenleaf pioneered the concept of servant leadership, and his key characteristics are best suited to today's growing millennial workforce.

Jason Klingler
Jason Klingler

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