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Servant leadership is not some new idea thought up by the millennials or generation X. It is an approach that goes back to ancient philosophy. There are passages that relate to servant leadership in the Tao Te Ching, attributed to Lao-Tzu, and can be found in many religious texts.
Servant leadership is the act of putting more value into your employees/clients by changing your actions as a leader. Instead of being at the top making demands, you are amongst them tackling problems and creating solutions together. Those who have become giants in their industry live by the idea that servant leadership is what sets them apart.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“Life’s most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.” ― John C. Maxwell
“Good leaders must first become good servants.” ― Robert K. Greenleaf
This is just a short list of leaders who lived by the servant leadership model in their careers and lives. They dominated in their industry or were considered catalysts of change to the world as we know it.
Still not 100 percent about what servant leadership can do for you?
Here are 7 ways that servant leadership can change your career.
1) Servant leadership takes you off the pedestal and puts you at eye level with your client/customer/employee.
There is often times an idea that leaders lead by making demands and orders that need to be completed ASAP. This is usually the model being used in companies where you see high turnover rates throughout the timeline of the organization.
They may not have started out that way, but with expansion, there is often a large disconnect with the top level of the company and the bottom level.
*Look at your business and see where you can become eye level with you employees/clients. You may need to do some surveys to get their perspective.
2) Servant leadership fuels passionate people.
When you are a servant leader, you create a community of passionate people who want to do more than average. They see your fire up close and personal, which cultivates a deeper connection. Results from having your team witness your fire firsthand will ignite a fire within them.
Let’s be honest: burnout can happen in any career. But a passionate leader can often keep morale high even in tough times.
*Time to do a self check. How passionate are you for your career? You have to be honest with yourself and your team, because it affects the overall morale of the organization.
3) Servant leadership changes the dynamic of a working mentality.
The thoughts that go along with the word “work” will often turn people off and or turn them away. When people relate an activity to work, they are more likely to quit when they feel drained, strained, or depleted. They question the value of the actions that they are being asked to do.
Again, this is why we see a huge turnover rate in a lot of companies. All work and no play makes people quit.
*Have you turned off the fun sign at work and at home? Maybe a dance break or some ice cream may help. There has to be a healthy work – fun balance in order to stay motivated.
4) Servant leadership leads to growth.
When a person is happy doing something, they are more likely to recruit others to join them. They will become your hiring and firing squad because they will be invested in the success that you are striving for. The same way that hurt people tend to hurt people, happy people will oftentimes produce happy people. They create a buzz about the environment that they work in.
*Let’s be honest: no one is happy ALL the time. Life brings with it circumstances beyond our control. We must be willing to see the brighter side of a situation because it makes a difference.
5) Servant leadership breeds creativity.
When people don’t feel like they are being forced to do something, they often will have more creative ideas. They can freely share them with someone who they feel is invested in them, as much as the business. Yes, there are people that make great decisions under pressure. But that statement is not accurate for everyone.
*Know those who labor among you. This statement is very accurate. Do you know how you and your team handle pressure? Knowing this can open up new opportunities for planning sessions.
6) Servant leadership leads to better communication.
When this model is used, people feel like they are both heard and given the freedom to speak up. This is a freedom that is lost in most jobs for fear of backlash or getting laid off. Water cooler conversations will often be where people speak freely, as opposed to speaking at the team meeting.
*Practicing active listening skills will boost communication.
7) Servant leadership empowers other leaders.
Servant leadership creates a platform for other leaders to grow and expand. Most jobs are constricting to the employee. You are held back by a system created to keep people in line and uniform. Talk to anyone in retail and they will shout it from the mountain tops.
It’s almost like the snake in a home aquarium, as opposed to the snake in the wild. A snake in its natural habitat will grow to its greatest capacity.
*The business that cannot expand and adapt will NOT succeed. Have you stunted your growth and the growth of your company by putting people in a box?
Looking at this list, you should be able to gauge just where you are as a leader and how servant leadership can propel you into your next level.