How to Build a Servant Leadership Approach: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Build a Servant Leadership Approach: A Comprehensive Guide | Leadership | Emeritus

In times of crisis and uncertainty, leaders who prioritize ‘service before self’ can make a significant difference. This is called servant leadership and involves leaders putting the needs of others before their own. Consequently, this can foster an inclusive work environment that enables employees to be their authentic selves. Additionally, while most traditional leadership styles focus on the organization, this leadership focuses on the team members. Let’s dive further into this style of leadership and see how it works.

What is Servant Leadership?

It is a leadership approach that prioritizes the needs of others and builds a culture of trust and empathy. It is, perhaps, one of the only leadership styles that focus on serving the team before the organization.

Origin of Servant Leadership

Robert Greenleaf coined the term ‘servant leadership’ in 1970. In an essay titled ‘The Servant as Leader’, he talked about how servant leadership can benefit organizations. Additionally, he wrote about how servant leaders prioritize the well-being of their team members and the communities they belong to.

Characteristics of Servant Leaders

Greenleaf, in his essay, listed the top characteristics of servant leaders. These are:

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Foresight
  • Commitment to the growth of others
  • Building communities

Servant Leadership Vs. Other Leadership Styles

Here’s how servant leadership differs from other leadership styles:

  1. While servant leadership prioritizes serving the needs of others and empowering team members, traditional leadership focuses on exercising power and authority over subordinates
  2. Transactional leadership and servant leadership differ in how they approach team members. Transactional leadership is based on a system of rewards and punishments. On the other hand, servant leadership fosters a sense of community and collaboration in teams, motivating individuals to perform their best
  3. Servant leadership and transformational leadership are different in several ways. For example, transformational leaders inspire team members to achieve a shared vision. Meanwhile, servant leaders inspire and motivate their teams to achieve their personal goals as well as the company’s objectives.

How Servant Leadership Helps in Workplace Diversity, and Why That Matters

This form of leadership helps organizations create a supportive and inclusive work environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. That is the essence of workplace diversity. Below are some of the critical reasons why workplace diversity is important:

1. Increases Creativity and Innovation

A diverse workplace brings together people of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This can lead to new ideas, approaches, and solutions.

2. Enhanced Problem-Solving

When people from different backgrounds work together, they bring varied problem-solving skills and approaches to the table. Consequently, this leads to effective problem-solving and decision-making.

3. Increased Employee Satisfaction and Retention

Organizations that welcome people from different backgrounds are likely to make their employees feel valued and included. This can lead to increased employee satisfaction and retention.

How Aspiring Leaders Can Develop a Servant Leadership Mindset

By now, it is clear that servant leaders have a different leadership mindset compared to traditional leaders. Aspiring leaders who want to develop this leadership mindset must concentrate on the five components below.

1. Intent

To develop this form of a leadership mindset, aspiring leaders must start by understanding the intent of their actions. For instance, servant leaders prioritize their team members’ well-being before making any business decisions. That means the intent behind every action should be a team member’s well-being.

2. Presence

Servant leaders are always present for their team members, whether for a conversation or solving issues. Therefore, that is imperative to develop this form of a leadership mindset.

3. Provision

Servant leaders know how to take care of their team members. Additionally, they provide the support and resources the team members need to complete a task.

4. Caring

Servant leaders care for their team members and work to ensure that they succeed in all their endeavors.

5. Reward

Servant leaders celebrate the progress, results, and even the effort put in by their team members. Therefore, aspiring servant leaders must celebrate their team’s success from time to time.

Nurture Leadership Skills with Emeritus

Aspiring leaders can enhance their skills by enrolling in leadership courses offered by Emeritus. These courses are designed for fresh graduates and experienced professionals. Enrolling in these courses can help learners advance their leadership careers. Additionally, they can acquire advanced skills and learn different approaches, such as servant leadership.

About the Author

Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Nikhil is a passionate and free-spirited writer with 4+ years of experience. He has a keen eye for the ever-evolving content landscape, which helps him craft captivating content across various genres. He writes about marketing, data science, and finance for the Emeritus Blog. Beyond work, Nikhil is a dedicated pet parent who loves leisurely walks with his beloved puppers.
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