For decades I have coached individuals and organizations on how to embrace the Servant Leadership approach and mindset. Today I would like to provide a brief introduction to the servant leadership philosophy. I will have a number of videos on this topic, but the first thing I want to do in this video is explain some of the similar tasks that both autocratic leaders and servant leaders share. They both face the same needs, problems, opportunities and pressures. The difference is how they approach or face these challenges. One’s motives, perspectives, and attitudes are what separates a traditional autocratic leader with a servant leader. Let’s begin.
One of the myths of servant leadership is that it is somehow soft, or not clearly definable. Yes, it may appear this way, but only if you have been conditioned by your culture to think in terms of dogmatic control and knee-jerk decision-making. The truth is that autocratic leaders and servant leaders face most of the same difficulties, but they approach them in vastly different ways. Here are some of the responsibilities they share.
Vision and Mission-Focused
The best leaders have the ability to create an inspiring mental picture of a better, preferred future. They offer a visionary plan of where they, or the organization, will be in 5-years, 10-years, or 25-years. Great leaders paint the future in such rich, vivid images that co-workers can virtually imagine it, and aspire to be part of it. Leaders also remind everyone to keep their focus and attention on the company’s stated mission.
Authentic leaders strive to support a values-based climate in the organization. These values impact every aspect of a company – how it does business, how it makes decisions, how it treats its employees and customers. Some key qualities include a commitment to integrity, mutual respect, collaboration, and teamwork.
Leaders know that routines, plans, and schedules can change at any time. A resilient leader aims for a flexible approach that allows the organization to “pivot” as necessary, especially in times of new opportunity or threat.
Intensity helps the leader to handle possible distractions while achieving their major objectives. By giving their attention to the most important projects and needs, leaders complete their largest goals while managing their limited time and resources.
Effective leaders are tasked with driving needed change, yet, they also need a strong sense of stability. Taking a steady, reliable approach can allow you to keep your strategy, team, or company on track. Establishing regular routines and telling your team what to expect allows you and your staff members to maintain energy and focus, even as you strive for constant progress.
Every leader should demonstrate confidence and competence to instill motivation and respect. Good leaders who exhibit poise and conviction tend to build trust quickly with their team and colleagues.
Strong leaders are not hesitant to make the difficult decisions that are necessary. They know that ambiguity and indecision breed confusion, and erode confidence in either their leadership or the mission.
Inspirational leaders provide a compelling reason or motive for action. Their personal example and persuasive organizational incentives provide a strong reason to accomplish the goals of the organization.
Accomplished leaders work diligently to build a diverse workforce into a cohesive functioning team. The leader’s goal is to have everyone cooperating together in harmony, and to achieve the interests of a common mission.
Again, these are some of the common shared challenges that both autocratic and servant leaders must address. Ones motives, perspectives and attitudes are what separates a traditional autocratic leader with a servant leader. I will explain some of the differences in perspective using just two examples.
Example #1 – Shareholders vs. Stakeholders
Autocratic leaders are primarily concerned with themselves, and the organizations shareholders. These are individuals who hold a “share” or ownership of the company. These leaders are especially motivated to accommodate the largest shareholders who yield some power, or could potentially challenge them, or could initiate a change in ownership in the organization.
With an autocratic mindset, it’s the autocrat’s desires, and those of the shareholders, that is always first and foremost. This has a tendency to motivate the leader to focus on short-term profit and loss.
In contrast to this, servant leaders are primarily concerned with the organizational mission, and its stakeholders. These are the internal and external partners who have a stake or vested interest in the long-term success of the organization. This includes not only the external shareholders, but also its workforce who support their families by their employment, vendors to sell products to the company, customers who expect quality products or services from the company.
The servant leader balances the strategy and decisions they make to serve the needs of those who have a share in the organization’s long-term success and future. This has a tendency to motivate the leader to focus on long-term achievements and profit.
Example #2 – Positive Organizational Culture Created by Servant Leadership
The 2nd example between an autocratic leader and servant leader is the positive organizational culture created by a dedication to servant leadership principles.
These leaders aspire to create and maintain a culture that not only works effectively, but is also fun loving, creatively driven, and is “work” family and community oriented. It is based on the “core value” that if you take care of people, put people first, the profit will take care of itself.
It promotes the idea of “people caring for people” and this encourages everyone to honor their commitments and keep their promises and obligations. In our next video on the topic of servant leadership we will define more distinctly what it is, and the positive results it produces.
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This is Greg Thomas on behalf of Leadership Excellence Ltd. reminding you that it was John Adams who wrote, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” next time!