What should a servant leader do?

Servant leadership seeks to move the interaction between management and staff away from controlling activities and towards a synergistic relationship. This leadership style requires an individual to demonstrate characteristics such as empathy, listening, stewardship and commitment to the personal growth of others. A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of individuals and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership often involves the accumulation and exercise of power by the one at the 'top of the pyramid', servant leadership is different.

The servant leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform at their best. Servant leaders strive to understand the intentions and perspectives of others. They can be more empathetic by temporarily setting aside their point of view, valuing others' perspectives and approaching situations with an open mind. A servant leader must foster an inclusive culture in his or her team.

Inclusive teams allow each person to have a sense of belonging. This gives them the opportunity to thrive. Servant leadership is a style based on a desire to serve and give back to their community. By putting the needs of others first, you empower people to give their best.

When community members see your passion and commitment through your actions, they want to be connected to you. Servant leadership goes against the belief that leadership is defined as hierarchical, patriarchal and related to wealth or status. Instead, as the name suggests, it focuses on serving others to help them grow, often without the title or recognition that comes with many leadership roles. Robert Greenleaf, the originator of servant leadership theory, chose that name because it is contradictory and the polar opposite of typical leadership theories.

I believe that to be a good leader, you have to be a great listener. I also agree with the other 9 keys to servant leadership. Everyone has their strengths and it is a good leader who can bring a team together to achieve a GOAL. I have been in management positions before, but my lifelong leadership accomplishments were learned on the football field, four years as a college player and 15 as a HS assistant coach.

I had the pleasure of coaching my son, who went on to be a successful NFL player. Greenleaf, who passed away in 1990, founded the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in Atlanta. Fortunately, theories and practices such as servant leadership have shown that anyone can be a leader and that true leaders are rarely defined by title or wealth. It complements democratic leadership styles and has similarities to Transformational Leadership - which is often the most effective style to use in business situations - and Level 5 Leadership - where leaders demonstrate humility in the way they work.

In practice, Southwest Airlines, under the leadership of its founder Herb Kelleher, is often cited as the model servant leadership corporation. Finally, servant leaders should always be looking for ways in which they can improve their own leadership and contribute to their team. Instead, the servant leader engages in respectful conversation that demonstrates his or her trust in the employee to make the necessary adjustments. 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 lead by developing strong relationships based on trust.

He quotes with approval the expert opinion that if a manager does not spend at least 25 percent of his or her time developing future leaders, then he or she is not really fulfilling his or her responsibilities as a leader. It should come as no surprise that servant leadership has become one of the most popular leadership styles in the modern workplace. However, servant leadership is problematic in hierarchical and autocratic cultures where managers and leaders are expected to make all the decisions. If you are the leader of an organisation, part of your responsibility is to prepare those who come after you with the knowledge and skills you have acquired so that the organisation can continue to succeed long after you are gone.

Whatever the type of interaction with staff, servant leaders are consistent in showing encouragement and humility with an egalitarian attitude. Servant leaders are a revolutionary group that takes the traditional model of power leadership and turns it completely upside down. Practising servant leadership builds confidence in employees, who can be inspired by their boss's competence and character and convinced by their boss's "serve first" practice that he or she has their best interests at heart. James Sipe and Don Frick, in their book The Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, state that servant leaders are people of character, who put people first, are skilled communicators, are compassionate collaborators, use foresight, are systems thinkers and exercise moral authority.

It is our hope that, if the advice offered in this review to address these issues is heeded, research on servant leadership can move forward and continue to offer significant insights to the field of leadership for the next 20 years.

Jason Klingler
Jason Klingler

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