Article Writen by Kelly Harris
What differentiates a good leader from a bad?
Think about it. We can all clearly distinguish a good leader from a bad. Is it the demands a bad boss makes of our time that places him squarely in the bad leader category? Is it the unmet expectations or is it the promise of a raise and then the letdown of a good review versus a great review? What about a good leader? Is it their willingness to help others grow into leaders that makes them a good leader? Is it their willingness to listen? Perhaps it’s their ability to help you become the person that you want to be? My question to you is, What category do you fall into as a leader?
Several months ago I was blessed to be in a leadership class that altered my perspective on leadership for the better. This class focused on servant leadership and has since become the foundation that I model within my own company.
Principles of Servant Leadership:
“Servant-leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you, you work for them.”Ken Blanchard
Servant leadership is the idea that you flip the traditional leadership model on its head. For generations, leaders have been expected to provide guidance, direction and support to their staff, while keeping motivation high. The cornerstone of servant leadership is the emphasis on service. Servant leaders focus on their team, rather than the entire company.
Many believe that focusing on the people in the company helps produce skilled employees who are experts in their field. This focus also helps employees to feel motivated, making it more likely to help improve operations and management.
Servant leadership requires leaders to be ethical in their choices and lead by example. It allows for diversity of thought and encourages all ideas. The final product is often a collaboration of many gifted individuals.
Servant leaders are coaches
Servant leaders are often guided by their personal mission, vision and values. This attracts people who are in alignment with the leader and builds a sense of trust. As a servant leader, you must have a clear understanding that it’s not about you. It never was and it never will be.
Adopting an attitude of “It’s all about us!” creates a safe culture for risk taking. That risk taking leads to out of the box thinking and ultimately to innovative products and ideas.
Servant leaders take on the role of a coach rather than a boss. They don’t boss people around because their people already have the skills and motivation to take on the projects and be successful.
Servant leaders look for Obstructions within a Project, and work to remove them
Research suggests that employees are the most fulfilled when they are making progress in their business. Servant leaders establish daily check- ins with their team, identify blocks and obstacles and then brainstorm with the team ways to remove the blocks and move forward. Essentially, servant leaders work to build their team into leaders.
A great example of a servant leader is George Washington. As the story goes, on a rainy day during the Revolutionary War, George Washington was out riding when he came upon a group of soldiers attempting, without success, to get a huge log beam into position. All the while their commander shouted words of encouragement from atop his horse. After watching for a moment, Washington dismounted, rolled up his sleeves and went to work with the soldiers. When he finished, all wet and tired from the work, he told his soldiers, “If you should need help again, call on Washington, your commander-in-chief, and I will come” (Maxwell, 2011). This story was told from soldier to soldier and many historians believe that this was why his soldiers were so loyal to him and willing to follow him into battle.
Leading from the back to build leaders
Servant leaders build leaders of tomorrow. Service to others is their motto and they work to empower their people to lead. Service leaders are enablers, supporting and guiding rather than dictating and demanding. Servant leaders set guidelines and teach their team to work for the greater good of the company. As a team, servant leaders trust that their team has the skills and expertise to support the project and get it done.
Change comes from new ideas. New ideas lead to innovation. Servant leaders inspire change by being open to the new ideas that their team brings to the table through their diversity or experiences and ideas. When leaders focus on inspiring others through service, all the other pieces click into place. What changes can you inspire in your organization?
So, I’ll ask you this, what kind of leader do you aspire to be?
Blanchard, Ken. Leadership Quote on Servant Leadership. Written November 17 2019. Accessed on December 9 2021. Retrieved from http://www.leancxscore.com/leadership-quote-ken-blanchard-on-servant-leadership/
Hayzlett, Jeffrey. 4 Principles of Servant Leadership. Written on October 16 2019. Accessed on December 9 2021. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/340791
Penn State Leadership Psych 485 Blog. George Washington as an example of Servant Leadership. Written November 20 2021. Accessed on December 9 2021. Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2012/11/20/george-washington-as-an-example-of-servant-leadership/
Tait, Brian. Traditional leadership Vs. Servant Leadership. Written on March 11 2020. Accessed on December 9 2021. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/03/11/traditional-leadership-vs-servant-leadership/?sh=78c57de4451e
Tarallo, Mark. The Art of Servant Leadership. Written May 17 2018. © 2021 SHRM. Accessed on December 9 2021. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/the-art-of-servant-leadership.aspx