The Bible tells a story about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, which surprised some of them. One of them, Peter, refused to have his feet washed by his master, instead sarcastically asking him to wash his entire body. This was Jesus’ demonstration to the disciples of the importance of servant leadership.
What is Servant Leadership?
“Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader’s main focus is the thriving of their company or organization. A servant leader shares power, puts the needs of the employees first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people.”– Wikipedia
Servant leadership is a philosophy that was founded by Robert .K Greenleaf and one of the points he made about being a servant leader is the ability of such a leader to see that those who are served grow as individuals, become healthier, wiser, and freer, and eventually become more servant leaders themselves. In this manner, servant leaders replicate themselves.
Servant leadership is a unique find; most people want to lead because they want to be popular, to be served and revered by the led, rather than the other way around. These leaders fail to recognize that by putting the employees first, both they and the organization stand to benefit more because when the employees grow personally, the organization grows as well due to the commitment and dedication demonstrated by satisfied employees.
If you want to work for a company that has dedicated and satisfied employees and customers, you should look at the management to see if the leaders are servant leaders. If you can tell who the leader is within five minutes of entering an organization, that leader may not be a servant leader.
What actions should be observed in an organization to determine whether it has a servant-leader type of management?
- Examine the organization’s mission; does it include any phrases that mention having a positive influence on both employees and customers? You can figure this out if you take the time to read between the lines.
- What are the values of the organization, and are employees’ beliefs and values respected?
- Are employees carefully chosen, what are the requirements for recruiting employees, and is cheap labor valued over service?
- Is employee development an important part of the organization’s focus? Is employee development a top priority at your company? If the answer is yes, the organization recognizes that it is impossible to give what one does not have; employees can only give what they have. Better training results in improved service.
- Is the organization concerned about the community in which it operates, and do they contribute to its development?
How do you recognize a servant leader?
– A servant leader is one who listens to understand and solve problems.
– A servant leader demonstrates compassion, sympathy, and understanding; he can put himself in the shoes of others and demonstrate empathy.
– A servant leader can ask the led to participate in important tasks, thereby working as a team to serve a mission greater than themselves, sharing victories with them, and not taking the glory for themselves, thereby making the led feel important.
– A Servant leader recognizes and appreciates the efforts, gifts, and talents of those who are led. They can also offer emotional support and encouragement to the leader.
– A servant leader uses persuasion and influence rather than manipulation. They accept and act on the led’s wise input.
– A servant leader can communicate to the led that they are both equal humans capable of facing the same challenges; this instills confidence in the led because he does not have to assume that the leader is a superior human.
– A servant is capable of communicating the organization’s vision in such a way that the leaders can internalize it and work in accordance with the vision.
– The servant leader must be proactive and foresighted in order to collaborate with the led to achieve a common goal.
– A servant leader does not shift blame or shift responsibilities but rather demonstrates a sense of duty and obligation. They demonstrate a strong sense of accountability and discipline.
– A servant recognizes and nurtures each team member’s ability to blossom and develop. They accomplish this by motivating, inspiring, and encouraging those who lead.
If you intend to know if you are a servant leader then take a look at the led, are they free around you, are you approachable? Are they free around you? Are you approachable? Do they appear to be in better shape than when they first started working with you? Are they wiser and more courageous, capable of confidently taking on responsibilities in your absence?
I’m sure the servant leader thing is all about garbage in, garbage out; as a leader, you reap what you sow. If your leadership style is self-serving, you will attract followers who are self-serving as well. The followers or the led will look out for themselves as well and put up eye service, becoming pretentious whenever you are around. This is a very unhealthy state for any organization because customers will suffer and the organization will not grow.
On the other hand, if you are a leader who seeks to serve the led, you will undoubtedly attract followers who will eventually become servants and eventually servant leaders.
“The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which one’s capacity to lead is severely limited.” – Robert Greenleaf
“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” – Mark 10:43 ESV