Sometimes we can confuse leadership with dictatorship. A leader with a dictator style makes orders & demands without taking into account the wants and needs of others. Perhaps this style of leadership can come in handy in some special circumstances. However, staff do not tend to respond well to being constantly treated this way. Depending on the situation, a leader should adopt different styles to suit. For the most part, adopting a servant leadership style will help you get the most out of your team.
If we look at leadership from a ‘servant leadership’ point of view, the job of a leader is to help their team succeed & give them what they need. This could be guidance, motivation, training or even chocolate cake in the break-room!
Servant leadership is the paradoxical balance between leader and servant. The term was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf who said to be a servant leader, you’re a “servant first” i.e. you focus on the needs of others before you consider your own. You involve your team members in the decision-making process, you create a culture of caring & a sense of community, and you work to support & enhance the growth of your workers so they can meet their goals both at work and in their personal lives. This approach to leadership leads to higher staff engagement, productivity, trust & stronger relationships within your team.
Some tips on establishing a culture of servant leadership in your workplace include:
MAKE SURE YOUR TEAM KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE
Servant leaders have a strong awareness of what’s going on around them. They care deeply about the welfare of their team members and don’t view them as cogs in a machine. You can show your team how much you care by taking a genuine interest in their lives. This means both inside & outside of work. You can also reward your team by taking them out for a team outing OR why not go all out and organise a team building activity.
DEVELOP NEW LEADERS NOT FOLLOWERS
The biggest investment you can make in your people is your time. By mentoring your staff and taking a genuine interest in their professional development you will help them learn vital skills for the future and improve their performance both inside and outside of work. And by teaching others to lead and providing opportunities for growth, your staff will give thanks with their loyalty & trust in return.
SHIFT FROM “YOU” TO “US”
We’ve all heard the saying “lead by example”, and this is very true when it comes to a servant leader. No task is beneath their pay grade and they’re never afraid to roll up their sleeves to get a job done. A common mistake of leaders is feeling that they are above certain tasks. This kind of thinking will only distance you from your team. A true servant leader says, “let’s go do it,” not, “you go do it”. To go even further in your endeavour to create a sense of community, a team building activity can help bring your team together in an environment external to the usual office day-to-day. Contact us to chat more about our team building options.
VALUE EVERYONE’S CONTRIBUTIONS
A servant leader values everyone’s contributions and regularly seeks out opinions. Someone who knows their opinion is not necessarily the right one, or indeed the ONLY one, has the quality of a servant leader. Servant leaders establish a culture of empathy and openness, creating a safe space for employees to come forward with any questions or pitch new, creative ideas that benefit the company.