October 1, 2014

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Leadership Styles – Servant Leadership

servant leadershipFollowing a recent article about Grateful Leadership, I want to look at another leadership style that will help you become a better leader.

Recently I came across an article by Darrell Andrews, who is a sport enthusiast, stating that he came across two types of leaders in sport. Some leaders enjoy the adoration that comes with success and clamor the spotlight when all is going well. They love giving interviews and communicating with the media during good times.

Unfortunately when things start to become challenging, these leaders don’t do so well. They begin to blame weakness in their organization for the failure. They start to pressure the people they are leading and make life miserable for everyone else, for in their mind, the problems in no way can be their fault. Although they love success, they are poor examples of leadership.

The second type of leader enjoys success too but they do something a little different. They give credit to the people within their organizations or businesses. This type of leader is a leader of people and they recognize that success in any organization starts with the people who work within it.

Servant Leadership

Lute Olsen, the former University of Arizona basketball coach put it this way: When the team wins, I give them the credit, when play is mediocre, we both need to improve, but when the team loses, it is my fault. What a great example of leadership!

We need more leaders like this today – leaders with an attitude of service. This leadership style is also called Servant Leadership.

Wikipedia defines it as follows:

“Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and a set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the top. By comparison, the servant leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible”.

Servant leadership was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in “The Servant as Leader” that was published in 1970. It is also known from a religious tradition where in the Bible Jesus is known as the ultimate example of a Servant Leader.

In a business context, it can represent a decentralized structure that focuses on employee empowerment and encourages innovation.

Qualities of a Servant Leader

Some characteristics that stand out from servant leaders are:

  • Motivation to listen actively
  • Empathy
  • Awareness and especially self-awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Stewardship where the leader feel obliged to help and serve others

Benefits of Servant Leadership

  1. It fosters an atmosphere of teamwork. The typical leader uses words like “me” and “I” while the servant leader uses words like “us” and “we”. Teamwork is achieved because everyone feels a part of the process.
  2. It adds value to the members of your team.  When people truly believe that they are more valuable than just getting the job done they will always make sure the job gets done. You will be dropping them notes of thanks for being such great team members.
  3. You reap what you sow. If you serve others, they will serve you. If you sow encouragement, generosity and kindness into those under you then you will receive the same back.
  4. It fosters an atmosphere of trust. Nothing builds trust faster than a servant attitude. This is because people know you care about them and have their best interest at heart even when you have to deal with problems. They can trust you.
  5. It increases your potential for success. A good leader realizes that no matter how talented he is, he can’t go very far without other people.

Please share in the comments what leadership style you prefer and how you think it affects the people in your team.

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Comments

  1. Projects Software says:

    This article was well written and easy to follow. You put a nice twist to it. I like this one Linky.

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