Are You a Servant Leader?

Is your organization built for servant leadership? This business philosophy can change the way you do business from the top down, allowing you to create a stronger company and a more inclusive work environment. Here’s how you can recognize if your organization will support servant leadership, and how you can establish this innovative system.

What is servant leadership?

Servant leadership is a set of business practices that allows leaders to establish meaningful connection with their staff, improving their morale, productivity, and engagement. To accomplish this, servant leaders set aside their own ambition and adopt a “serve first” mentality.

They ensure that the needs of their staff are met, whether that’s a more comfortable work environment, personal and professional development opportunities, and well-being exercises. Servant leaders share their power and promote the spread of ideas and the inclusion of every voice in the organization.

Is your organization ready?

One of the big things that can get in the way of servant leadership is your company’s culture. Does your organization prioritize a corporate structure or performance-based recognition? In these structures, it can be difficult for leaders to elevate others to a shared leadership position, or encourage development for traditionally overlooked staff members.

Another area that can be examined is how your company identifies and encourages leadership candidates. Do they target aggressively ambitious candidates or those who are more inclined to help others before themselves? This can be a strong indicator of whether or not your organization will be accepting of this philosophy.

How to become a servant leader

If your company is open to servant leadership, you can work to develop some of the best practices of this modern philosophy. Larry C. Spears, former president of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, wrote the 10 most important characteristics of servant leaders, including:

  1. Listening
  2. Empathy
  3. Healing
  4. Awareness
  5. Persuasion
  6. Conceptualization
  7. Foresight
  8. Stewardship
  9. Commitment to the growth of people
  10. Building community

An individual with the drive to become a servant leader can adapt these capabilities if they don’t come naturally. For instance, leaders can make a conscious effort to listen and empathize with others in the workplace. Hold training sessions and establish mentorships to encourage the development of a “serve-first” mentality among upper management.

Servant leadership isn’t right for every organization. Determine if it’s right for yours by examining your corporate culture and existing leadership structures. If it is, work on developing leadership qualities among your managers and adopting the philosophies of servant leadership throughout ever level of your organization.