These days nobody can afford not to be a leader. In one way or another we each have to take the lead and make a positive difference. If you are a leader by position or not, it is important to know about the concept of servant leadership. In the 20th Century a man named Robert K. Greenleaf created the term servant-leader. Servant-leadership is more of a philosophy that encourages leaders to serve first and lead as a means of expanding service to organizations and individuals. Servant leaders do not need to have a title like president, director or manager. Servant Leaders (SL) are people who act in a leadership capacity, even if it is behind the scenes and behind someone who has a more official title.
If your core belief is that people are there to serve you, then you are definitely not a servant-leader. You are probably simply a boss. If you think of yourself as a leader who can empower other people to be better at what it is they do, to enable them to learn more skills and develop more ability, and to become more effective and productive, then a servant-leader you are. Leaders must always look at helping others be their very best and encourage personal growth and development.
Servant Leadership has many advantages. Among the many advantages of servant leadership is that it enables the fostering of an atmosphere that is conducive to teamwork. The reason for this is that servant leaders ensure that every individual within the team feels he or she is a valued part of the process. The leader promotes a sense of service to others and leads by example. As the servant mentality is encouraged within the team, innovativeness and productivity is improved. Servant leaders diminish a competitive nature and make sure that there is no competition among the team members. In a team, where something fails, the responsibility is shared by all members and not just one individual. The same goes for when there is success; all team members share the credit in the SL model of leadership.
Smart leaders know that they key to goal accomplishment is by helping each individual know how they are making a real and significant contribution to something worthwhile. Servant-leadership adds value to team members. When people feel and believe that they are genuinely valued, not just for the work they do, they usually accomplish their tasks well. Empowered and inspired workers are very willing to give things an extra burst of effort. It is a true servant leader that helps others know they are truly valued and appreciated.
When it comes to being a leader, the saying “what goes around, comes around” holds true. When a leader serves the people within his or her team, that leader breeds generosity, encouragement, and kindness directed at team members. In an atmosphere of sincere gratitude, a leader will receive those very things back. Likewise, a leader who only out for himself and is demanding, rude, uncaring, and impatient will unquestionably be getting the same treatment. The leader sets the tone and models the expected behavior. Attitudes affect behavior and the best leaders know that the secret of true success is having a positive attitude and one that fosters sincere appreciation.
Trust is the backbone of effective leadership. Among the many advantages of servant-leadership is that it nurtures trust. Trust is built quickly when a leader has a servant attitude. The reason for this is that members of the team can see and feel that the leader truly cares for them and is constantly considering the best interests for each individual–even when things are not going well. People then learn to trust. Trust is often tested and true servant leaders are loyal to their followers and always rise to the occasion in maintaining high-levels of trust.
The good news about servant leadership is that anyone can be one. Becoming a servant-leader can greatly improve the potential for success in every type of organization and department. Any leader worth his salt knows that he can be drowning in talent but he will not go very far without the support of others.
A leader is limited by his or her ability and talent. However, in combination with all the collected ability and talent of a team, the possibilities are truly limitless. A good leader builds a team with the best possible talent that he or she can find. This is the best way to ensure that the potential of the team is maximized. A leader who chooses people who possess less talent and ability to ensure his or her position will not be threatened and usually will not go very far.
What is a servant-leader? It is a leader who gives up the believe that he is the most important. The servant leader is one who gives up personal rights, self-importance and focus on the “self”. A servant leader looks out for the best interests of others first and sets an example of true service to others.
Copyright © 2012 by Dr. Paul L. Gerhardt. All rights reserved.