Servant leadership is not a brand new, cutting-edge idea, in fact, it has been in existence for a very long time amidst all sorts of leadership styles and it has even set leaders apart from their peers and has built many successful careers. It’s safe to say that servant leaders are revolutionaries in their own right, in the sense that they turn traditional leadership, power, and hierarchy on its head. Leaders like these have the mentality of “serve-first”, throwing away an authoritarian mindset for humility, and are always looking for ways to enhance their team by bringing out their creativity, purpose, and potential. It’s never about them, but about people and the work.
Did you know the best performance at work often comes out of passion?
“As leaders, we can say anything we want, but we’re going to be judged on our behavior,” says Art Barter, founder, and CEO of the Servant Leadership Institute and CEO of Datron World Communications, Inc. One of the key factors of this kind of leadership is to leverage the strength of the employee and find out what they are passionate about. Did you know the best performance at work often comes out of passion and love for certain kinds of projects? Most leaders have no idea that their team members actually have different passions, imagine what can be achieved if they discover and leverage them.
Approach ideas and opinions with an open mind, even if they are contradictory to the way you think
“You are no longer an individual performer—you are a leader. Leaders are enablers. That’s your work,” says Pat Falotico, a former executive leader at IBM who is now CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. Here are some of the characteristics of being a servant leader. Start with listening to your team, speak to all of them, and understand their point of view. Have empathy for people and approach their ideas and opinions with an open mind, even if they are contradictory to the way you think. Become more self-aware about your emotions and behaviors. Persuade and encourage people rather than use your authority. Focus on long-term goals and the holistic development of your team, not simply professional.
Make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served
However, this does not mean you have to coddle your team or be a people-pleaser. Focus on what they need and how you can help them become the best versions of themselves. Appreciate them for a job well done and let them know where they can improve. Feedback is a two-way street, ensure your team gives you honest feedback while you do the same for them. Robert K. Greenleaf wrote in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970, “The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”