8 Key Principles of Effective Servant Leadership

All of us bring our own styles to how we manage, and how we like to be managed. There are various management styles that we can apply in organizations regarding leadership. 

Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase “servant leadership” in 1970. However, it’s an approach that people have used for centuries. Servant leadership is a management style that focuses on the needs of employees (not emotions), and their development and growth. These include listening, showing empathy, stewardship, foresight, persuasion, conceptualization, creating awareness, healing, dedication to people’s growth and development, and community building.

Take a closer look at the following principles of servant leadership, and some of its drawbacks:

Principles of Servant Leadership:

1. Ability to Listen

Good leaders don’t just issue commands and directives to their team but also listen to employees’ views on various matters. Other members contribute ideas freely, and their perspectives on issues are respectively considered. Different opinions from other members provide an opportunity for the growth of your business.

2. Power of Persuasion

Persuasion helps you guide and influence your team towards the organization’s objectives and goals. Rather than just giving directives to your employees, a servant leader explains why a given method or process is the best as opposed to others.

3. Empathy

As an effective leader, take into your heart the well-being of all your team members at most on a personal level. This can help detect behavioral changes in your employees. Showing empathy to your team boosts the worker’s morale and thus enhances productivity. You must show them you care about them and solve their issues.

4. Ability to Learn

We should reflect on previous experiences continuously, both as a unit and personally as leaders. It’s a good idea for a team to remember at the end of each phase, or regularly throughout the year, what went well and what could have gone better to learn and develop.

5. Encourage Others to Take the Lead

Leaders that recognize the value of developing a great team also recognize the importance of nurturing the next generation of leaders. It entails more than simply mentoring someone we see can become a leader like us one day. Leadership coaching, mentorship, and growth are examples of ways to nurture leadership. 

Take your time to show someone the fundamentals, offer words of support and respond to any questions these future leaders may have. Great leaders can produce a diverse group of people of different backgrounds.

Servant leaders give more of themselves by self-will, rather than by obligation. This may seem like a flaw, as many people may perceive. But the truth is, it helps you to grow as a leader. When you allow others to see you as a person, not simply the person who just delegates and signs the checks.

6. Stewardship

As influential servant leaders, recognize and appreciate the significance of your role in the company. Express to your colleagues the trust and confidence you have in them. We should strive to work hard, be punctual, and be dependable as a steward of your company’s objectives, assets, and goals.

7. Teamwork and Employee Participation

Servant leaders are also excellent at making their employees feel as though their voices and thoughts are valued. When you encourage your team to work as one unit and suggest new ideas to help improve the organization, you demonstrate that you appreciate what they have to say and value their collective contributions towards the organization’s success. This element can boost your employee’s morale to put in their best effort, resulting in higher-quality work.

8. Create a Trusting Environment

According to Forbes, trust is an essential element in any organization. A leader fosters a culture of trust by clearly showing everyone the mission, the values they must uphold, and being transparent about the company’s long-term goals. Trust is built by being unequivocal about everything in the organization. 

All communications should be specific and distributed to all company levels using a proper chain of command method. As a leader, you should be transparent and objective in running the organization’s affairs and setting an example for the team. Transparency fosters trust, which directly affects your company’s success. Remember that trust is two-way. It must be earned and not given.

Drawbacks of Servant Leadership

While it encourages everyone to share responsibility, sometimes it may be difficult to consult with everyone or rely on group consensus in times of crisis, tight deadlines, or emergencies. Cultivating servant leadership in your organization frequently requires different approaches and significant adjustments in individual employee attitudes and corporate culture. 

To actively develop servant leaders and a servant leadership paradigm may be challenging due to its complexity, limited resources, and support from individuals at all levels across your company.

However, many organizations believe a servant leadership style to be a benefit. You may want to adopt the servant leadership concept if you are serious about the growth and success of your business as it focuses on the individual growth of each employee. 

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