The idea of servant leadership has become more prevalent in the business world over the past few years. This counter-cultural approach to leadership has proven itself valuable and continues to trend that way. So what exactly is servant leadership? And how has it proven to be a top leadership style today? Let’s take a deeper look at what it means, how it plays out in company culture and how it could become a game-changer for you and your team.
The term servant leadership describes a leader’s primary role as serving others. It’s the concept that everyone within a company is on the same playing field and no single person is ‘too high up’ to step in and offer assistance. It’s a leadership approach that strives towards achieving authority rather than power and revolves around putting others first. If servant leadership seems a little lofty, don’t be discouraged. Let’s break it down, simplify things and see how change can come from this shift in leadership style.
Counter-Cultural Approach — > External Change
The concept of servant leadership is counter-intuitive when compared to more traditional styles of leadership. It takes the hierarchy of a company and completely flips it upside down. And when serving each other becomes the focus of leaders, it trickles throughout the company. The emphasis on results is shifted to people and this change creates an entirely new work environment. When this approach to leadership is adapted internally, it naturally correlates to the way your team members serve your customers externally – resulting in greater brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Less Fear —> More Trust
When it’s clear that your leaders are with you and for you, trust becomes a thread that is woven throughout company culture. As an employee, being seen for who you are as a person rather than what you bring to the table, removes the fear that often cripples creativity. Less fear yields more trust. With more trust comes increased collaboration + innovation, and more opportunity for people to give feedback, offer ideas and add value. With this in mind, it’s clear that servant leadership can directly impact the bottom line.
Empathy + Understanding —> Loyalty
As the workforce (and workplace) continues to evolve, empathy and understanding from leaders is crucial. A servant leader is one who works tirelessly to understand the feelings and perspectives of employees, clients and customers. If you believe the best in your people and want the best for your people, loyalty is naturally the outcome. As you invest in your employees personally and professionally, they will ultimately have greater buy in at work. Loyalty breeds a culture of safety and comfort that employees want to be a part of leading to increased retention.
Servant leadership speaks for itself — especially in our current climate. As companies have been challenged to rethink the way business is done, leadership has been taken into consideration, too. To learn more about servant leadership and hear examples of how it plays out in crisis, we invite you to listen to Roam’s Make Work Matter podcast featuring former SeaWorld CEO, Joel Manby. If you’re looking for a resource to help incorporate servant leadership into your company today, check out Wildsparq, a leadership development platform (and Roam member!) for organizations of all sizes, to help you get started.