Chances are that, by now, you’ve heard of a little concept called servant leadership. Simply put, a servant leader is a person who serves the people that they lead. A traditional leadership model puts the business objects first and commands the team in order to achieve these objectives. While there is certainly a time and place for this approach, servant leadership focuses on the people doing the work, ensuring that each individual on the team grows, learns, and meets their own objectives as long as those of the business.
Apart from simply being a different approach to leadership, there are plenty of benefits to servant leadership that are good for the employees, for the business, and for everybody involved. Let’s take a closer look at why servant leadership is important.
The long-lived and well-known tropes of work being a miserable experience, arguably, stem from people not actually being treated as real people, but rather as agents of growth and performance. Centering people as people not only helps team members feel like they’re playing an important role that isn’t limited to numbers on a spreadsheet, but it helps build a sense of community.
Especially as the workplace continues to tend away from the traditional vertical hierarchy and more towards a horizontal, collaborative structure, this sense of community is more important than ever. Whereas the traditional line of command often required little-to-no significant collaborative spirit save for special projects, this new horizontal line makes a communicative and proactive team necessary and important.
Good for business
Of course, if a leadership philosophy didn’t lead to good business results, it’d be tough to make its case. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with servant leadership. Investing in your team members is important for a lot of reasons, from team morale to workplace environment and everything in between. When team members feel this effort being invested in them, it translates to more care and effort being invested in their work.
This is similar to the point we mentioned about a sense of community and collaboration, but with an important distinction: inspiring better work is better for business. In fact, this is the fundamental intention behind servant leadership. Take care of your employees and they will take care of the customers, and the shareholders will be taken care of as a consequence.
Navigating other challenges
Finally, one of the most important pillars in being a servant leader is helping your team members reach their own goals and objectives, even if they aren’t immediately related to the company’s objectives. It is centering your individual team members to help them grow and develop not only as employees, but as well-rounded people.
We continue to live in increasingly uncertain times with increasingly more difficult challenges to navigate. Helping your team grow in this way also helps them be able to take on more challenges as individuals in their own lives, and help them live with more confidence and security. A workplace that helps you live a better life outside of work, after all, is somewhere anyone would love to work!
Servant leadership is not a new concept. In fact, the term was coined by Robert Greenleaf back in 1970. While the idea is certainly timeless, Robert’s vision is more important now than ever:
“The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”
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