For thousands of years, servant leadership has been both a leadership perspective and set of leadership practices. As an ancient philosophy, there are writings that relate to servant leadership in China as far back as 570 BCE. Servant leadership can be found in many religious texts including Christianity, yet the philosophical value itself transcends any particular religious teachings.
The modern phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay called “The Servant as Leader”, first published in 1970. He was a passionate advocate and launched the modern day rediscovery of the perspective.
Traditionally leadership traits in the Western world has generally focused on the accumulation and exercise of power by an individual, or elites at the “top” of the organizational pyramid. In comparison, the servant-leader shares power with others, and puts the needs of others first. This helps others to develop and allows them to perform as highly as possible. In essence, instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people. When a leader shifts their perspective to serve others first, they unchain the capabilities, potential and ingenuity in those around them. This results in engaged, more productive, and more fulfilled employees. The major purpose of servant leadership is to inspire and grow the people they influence, rather than dominate or control them.
Unlike autocratic leadership approaches with a top-down hierarchical style, servant leadership emphasizes personal development, trust, collaboration, empathy, and the ethical use of power. The leader is a servant first, making the conscious choice to lead in order to develop the potential in others through a positive personal example, not to increase their own authority. Their objective is to enhance the well-being of individuals in the organization to increase their development, training, teamwork and personal involvement.
Advantages of Servant Leadership Led Organizations
- It influences both personal life, and the work environment and therefore has the tendency to change society in a positive way.
- The beneficial treatment of employees leads them to demonstrate excellent customer service by the employees of the company. This results in a higher loyalty of the customers toward the product or service of the organization. Employees tend to reflect back the way they are treated.
- A high degree in employee satisfaction and commitment results in less turnover. You retain talented people and attract talented people.
- In time, an excellent corporate culture is developed where productive people enjoy working.
- It improves the ROI (return on investment) of your employees. All studies show that managers who empower and respect their staff get better performance in return. Increased productivity, personal commitment and greater fulfillment increase the bottom line.
Cleveland Servant Leadership Training
Does servant leadership work? In 2017, Fortune Magazine‘s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For revealed that 5 of the top 10 Best Companies to Work For identified themselves as companies practicing servant leadership. Here are some of the things you can expect to learn through our servant leadership development program:
- Servant leadership characteristics
- The mindset required to become a servant leader
- Skills servant leaders have that set them apart
- The contrast between an autocratic leader and a servant leader
- When problems arise… care-frontation vs confrontation
- The first place to start– who is responsible
Leadership Excellence, Ltd., Ohio specializes in helping Cleveland area leaders grow and thrive by developing essential servant leadership skills.Want to know more about servant leadership and how it can help you or your organization become more successful? Feel free to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with Cleveland Leadership Coach Greg L. Thomas, or get a free quote or more information on any of our business consulting services by clicking the button below.