How to Apply Servant Leadership

How to Apply Servant Leadership: Leadership Training Wisdom

Adopting servant-leadership principles can be a challenge to any organization. The difficulty of the challenge depends partly on the organization’s motivation. Companies that start out of the passion for a product or out of the desire to create occasions for other people tend to do rather well. However, company founders who are gunning to run their own empires making poor products may not fare as well.

There are many skills that can help company leaders make the principles of servant leadership work and they are as follows:

  • Listening – Servant leaders need to reinforce their listening skills and the best way to go about this is to make a string commitment to intently listen to other people. Such leaders need to identify and to clarify the desire of a team or group. They strive to listen to what is said, as well as what is not being said.
  • Empathy – Empathizing with others is one thing that servant leaders should strive for. Individuals want and need to be recognized and accepted for their uniqueness. A servant leader should assume that co-workers have good intentions and not simply reject them as individuals though there may be instances when their performance or behavior needs to be rejected.
  • Awareness – Self-awareness is one of the biggest strengths of a servant-leader. Being committed to fostering awareness of the self is never easy as people tend to be afraid of what they may discover if they delve into themselves too deeply.
  • Healing – Among the most powerful forces for integration and transformation is the ability to heal. Another great strength of a servant leader is the ability to heal one’s self and other individuals as well.
  • Conceptualization – The most important task of a servant leader is to “dream dreams”. Servant leaders need to be able to look at a challenge or difficulty from a perspective that is beyond that of day to day realities. They need to be able to conceptualize and innovate while maintaining a balance of focus.
  • Persuasion – Servant-leaders do not take advantage of their positional authority when they make decisions. They make every effort to persuade others instead of forcing compliance. This is what makes them different from autocratic leaders. The servant leader strives for a consensus.
  • Foresight – Leadership is not just about making sure people perform. It is also about understanding lessons that have been learned. Servant-leaders possess the characteristic of foresight that allows them to learn from their past experiences, the present realities, and the possible consequences of future decisions.
  • Strong commitment to the growth of individuals – True servant leaders firmly believe that individuals possess intrinsic value aside from their contributions as employees. They are committed to ensuring the professional, personal and spiritual growth of the people they work with.
  • Build communities – Servant leaders also strive to build a community or communities among the people who work within the organization.

Quite akin to being a sage, a servant leader’s leadership style can be described as unassuming. This style of leadership or guidance – where individuals are seen as equals and are able to communicate their concerns, as well as work to their fullest potential – is not something that becomes a burden to followers. In fact the servant leader will tend to share both the burdens and the benefits equally among the people he or she works with. This ensures that each person involved benefits.

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Dr. Paul L. Gerhardt, PhD
The Organizational Doctor TM

Copyright © 2012 by Dr. Paul L. Gerhardt. All rights reserved.

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