Servant leadership is a leadership approach whereby the leader or manager of an organization places the interests of his or her employees and clients ahead of his or her interests or needs (Spears, 2010). Servant leaders value the professional and work-related development of their employees, build the communities of employees, and are willing to share power. More specifically, servant leaders lead by serving their employees and clients. Such kind of leaders possesses certain characteristics in common. They are active listeners, are empathetic, are healers, have a high level of awareness, and are also persuasive.
Active leaders pay attention to what their followers are communicating. As listeners, servant leaders listens and give immediate feedback to whoever he is talking. By doing this, the servant leader is capable of understanding what the speaker is communicating. They are also empathetic. This means that they can identify as well as understand what their followers are going through, especially emotionally. By recognizing and relating to the emotions, motives, and situations of others, servant leaders show care and respect for employees. As a result, the employees feel part of the companys team thus enhancing their morale and productivity. Apart from being empathetic, servant leaders are healers. That is, they can self-heal as well as heal others through the cultivation of a sense of well-being. Moreover, these leaders are a great sense of awareness. They can identify the environmental factors and issues that are having an effect on the organization and his followers. Lastly, servant leaders are persuasive; they can influence their followers through persuasion as opposed to using force or coercion (Spears, 2010).
Ways in which servant leadership differs from other leadership models
There exist differences between servant leadership and other leadership models. Firstly, servant leadership places a lot of focus on the followers (clients and employees). They do not have a particular affinity for the company or organization he or she is working for but are interested in the welfare of the people who form the organization. On the contrary, other leadership styles (e.g. transformational leadership) places great focus on the organization rather than his or her followers (Gregory Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2004).
The second distinction between the servant leadership and other styles is that of follower influence and motivation. In servant leadership, the employees are largely influenced by the service their leader offers. More specifically, a servant leader motivates followers through service instead of influencing them through the use of authority. On the other hand, leadership styles e.g. transformational leadership uses the leaders characteristics to motivate the employees (Gregory Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2004).
The third difference between the servant leadership and other leadership styles is with their focus on production. Even though all leadership styles are concerned with employees and their productivity, servant leadership places more focus on the employees since the primary concern is to the followers. Conversely, other leadership styles priority is in production since the leaders concern is meeting the organizational goals and objectives.
How to become a servant leader
Leaders of organizations can work their way to servant leadership through some approaches. The first approach to becoming a servant leader is improving ones listening skills. A leader can achieve this if he starts paying close attention to the people around him or her. He or she can do this by sitting down with employees and getting immediate feedback on their progress, issues, and concerns rather than relying on the management of the organization to report the employees needs. Apart from just listening, the leaders should listen to understand if they need to become servant leaders (Servant Leadership 101: An Introduction to Servant Leadership, n.d.).
Secondly, leaders can achieve servant leadership if they stay introspective. Instead of directing all the energy on the organization, a leader should spend some energy to understand himself or herself, especially his or her strengths and weaknesses. After identifying them, he or she should look for ways of eliminating the weaknesses. Apart from identifying his or her strengths and weaknesses, a leader should evaluate their effect on people he or she is working with.
Thirdly, servant leadership can be achieved through upending of organizations pyramid. Instead of the leader or chief executive of an organization being the boss,' he or she should learn to delegate duties or work to others. By doing so, he or she demonstrate that he trusts his followers and want to develop them Servant Leadership 101: An Introduction to Servant Leadership, n.d.)
How servant leadership might be implemented in an organization
Implementation of servant leadership in an organization can be summarized in some few steps. The first step should involve the setting of standards for servant leadership. This can be done by educating the leaders, via workshops or seminars, on the best skills that they need to be put in place for change towards servant leadership to take place. After that, feedback on how the leaders are applying the skills is sought. Feedback is meant to identify whether a gap exists between what is needed of a servant leader and his or her actual performance at that particular moment. After getting the feedback, the trainee leader is coached on how to eliminate the gaps. To ensure goal-directed learning takes place, SMART goals should be developed by each trainee leader.
To further reinforce the concept of servant leadership, more leadership training programs can be developed. These training programs should be on the tenets of servant leadership e.g. sharing leadership, coaching employees, and authentic leadership skills. The last step in the implementation of servant leadership is the development of mastermind groups that brings together the participants to share their practices and experiences on the application of servant leadership skills in their organizations. Through this, the participants can learn from one another.
After taking this assignment, I have appreciated the fact that leadership is not only about high-handedness. I have also learnt that an organization can be more productive if the employees feel that they are part of the organization and if they are incorporated into leadership through delegated roles. In addition, I have learnt that the most effective means of gaining trust of employees and motivating them is through serving and not through leading them.
Gregory Stone, A., Russell, R. F., & Patterson, K. (2004). Transformational versus servant leadership: A difference in leader focus. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 25(4), 349-361.
Servant Leadership 101: An Introduction to Servant Leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved 25 October 2016, from http://www.servantleadershipinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/ebook-Servant-Leadership-101-Implementation-Guide2.pdf.
Spears, L. C. (2010). Character and servant leadership: Ten characteristics of effective, caring leaders. The Journal of Virtues & Leadership, 1(1), 25-30.
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