“Servant leadership” is a term coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader”. Servant leaders get things done by first taking care of the needs of the people they’re leading.
Does this mean servant leaders are pushovers? Absolutely not. Rather, they make themselves available and share their time, knowledge and experience to help others succeed. At its core, servant leadership is about not seeking credit for yourself, but setting others up to succeed.
I’ve been reading about servant leadership this week. Here are some articles and blog posts I’ve found helpful.
The CEO of Popeyes Says Becoming a ‘Servant Leader’ Helped Her Turn Around the Struggling Restaurant Chain. Business Insider: “How can a manager become a servant leader? When you ask someone to tell you about their best boss, they tell you about the ambitious accomplishment they had under the leader, and how the leader made it possible for them to have this remarkable achievement. It’s being courageous by setting aspirational goals combined with the humble serving of others along that journey. The tension between daring and humble is what creates the best circumstances.”
3 Steps to Greater Servant Leadership EntreLeadership: “Act With Grace. The best way to handle any negative situation is to act with grace. For example, if you have to reprimand a team member, never embarrass the person or talk to them when you are still mad—even when you think you are hiding how you feel. ‘Anger is a signal that there is a problem,’ Dr. [Henry Cloud, clinical psychologist] says. ‘It is usually not a good tool to fix the problem. People hear our tone much more than our words.’”
What is Blocking Adoption of Servant Leadership? InfoQ.com: “…one thing I observe much too often is some unconscious assumption that there must be something wrong with others. For example the HR policies are written the way to show that company does not trust the employees. Or managers think they need to motivate their direct reports with bonuses to make them work efficiently. Or micromanage them to make sure everything will be done. The basic paradigm that the Servant Leadership should start with is I’m OK – You’re OK.”
Sherry Chris: ‘Be a Servant-Leader’. Inman: “5. Empowerment. Every person on a team should be encouraged to perform to the best of their ability and support every member of that team, [Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate CEO Sherry] Chris said. ‘You choose the best team you can and you empower them to do the best job they can. It allows you to grow significantly. Bring people in that are smarter than you that will do the job in a better way than you do it,’ she said. Chris’ style is more ‘bottom up’ than ‘dictatorial,’ she said, because she knows that good ideas can come from anywhere. The company’s brokers and agents are not afraid to speak up because they know they will be listened to, she added.”
How Can a Leader of a Virtual Team Express Servant Leadership? Weaving Influence: “Creating Opportunities – Perhaps the most significant way I serve my virtual team is by working to create a stable, viable business to provide work they enjoy. Though this seems obvious, creating opportunities for people to do work they love is the first action that makes the others possible. As I put my head down to grow this business every day, my work is service to the team. Every day, I choose to work in service to the team and our shared goals.”
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