September 20, 2017

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

Leadership Styles: The Vision of a Servant Leader

By Bill Flint

Vision of a Servant LeaderAs part of a series of articles about Leadership Styles, today’s post is about the vision of a Servant Leader.

The best strategy to achieve organizational goals and create competitive advantage is by developing an environment of caring, mutual trust, and respect between the leaders and the people by focusing their efforts and strategy on developing the full potential of all associates and the business, therefore creating a winning partnership.

Servant Leaders Live Their Vision By:

  • Treating people as the most important asset in the company
  • Seeing people not as they are today but their potential
  • Realizing people are more important than tasks
  • Measuring their own success by the success of those they lead
  • Knowing leadership is about building relationships throughout the company
  • Impacting people’s lives by mentoring and coaching
  • Setting goals, objectives, actions, and measurements, with accountability for the results
  • Leading not just with their words but with their actions and modeling the behavior
  • Believing it is the responsibility of leaders to make a difference in people’s lives
  • Encouraging, inspiring, and motivating their people

When you see the definition and vision of a servant leader, it seems it should be something every leader and every company would want to embrace. It’s hard to argue with developing leaders who exhibit such skills, abilities, vision, and philosophy for leading others. But for many, it’s hard for them to understand the importance and make servant leadership a way of life.

Often when companies have tried to start new initiatives to improve relationships with their people, it has failed, because there is no real strategy or plan for developing and implementing a process. Real change takes time, patience and perseverance to make the needed people and culture improvements.

They look at it as a program and not as an on-going process. Programs are usually looked at as something short term, while process-building is for the long term. If servant leadership is going to be successful, leadership must be committed to the journey and the changes that everyone in the company will need to make in the way they lead, interact, and think about the people they lead.

Success Factors for Servant Leadership

Some of those changes will require a commitment that causes leaders to learn how to:

  • Balance the leadership of the people with the stewardship of the company.
  • Establish the expectations with their leadership for this new servant leadership style.
  • Obtain support by all senior leadership (from the top), or it will not work
  • Ensure leaders, supervisors, and middle -managers who won’t support it or cannot change leave the company.
  • Realize it is a journey and not a quick fix.
  • Communicate the process and the strategy to the total workforce, so they know what is happening and will hold you accountable for making it happen.
  • Expect scepticism from some associates.
  • Remove the barriers that keep people and the company from reaching their goals.
  • Empower your people.
  • Dramatically improve communication up and down the chain; communication will be the glue that makes it work.
  • Build real relationships with those they lead.
  • Make resolving conflict “job one,” because there will be plenty of conflicts as you implement this strategy.
  • Move your company from reactive to proactive in its personality.
  • Position people as problems solvers, not problems in the mind of all the leaders.
  • Develop an atmosphere of innovation and imagination.
  • Make motivating, encouraging, inspiring, and energizing your people the new normal.
  • Train and teach to build your associates into a team of champions.
  • See problems as opportunities.
  • Concentrate on developing the potential of your people.
  • Set goals, objectives, actions, and measurements, with accountability for the results. Build a sense of community, where everyone is pulling together to build your competitive advantage.
  • Train, teach, and learn over and over.
  • Remember there will sometimes be pain in the journey, but it will be worth it.

Change is never an easy journey. When the implementation of servant leadership principles isn’t going as fast or as well as you would like, there will be those who say it isn’t going to work. There will be leaders and people who won’t catch or support the vision, and they will need to change or move on. As we know, anything worthwhile is never easy.

But if your team will truly work together to create a collaborative effort and develop their potential and that of the company, you will create a competitive advantage that will confuse your competitors, as they try and figure out how you are accomplishing your success, how you are beating them in the marketplace, and why your customers love you so much.

Results from Servant Leadership Vision

As you implement your servant leadership principles, you will begin to see people in a new way, and best of all, you will begin to see a new excitement among your people. Your turnover problems will start to improve, and your vision of becoming the best place in the area to work will become a reality. You will create the security for the workforce and the company that you have always desired. Not only will the smiles of your people become brighter, but the results of your business will begin to improve.

If you can capture this vision for leadership, you will notice a change. You will start to feel less stress and frustration, knowing you and your companies are making a difference in the lives of people. This will give you the true joy and happiness all of us desire: the kind that is achieved by making a difference in the lives of the people God has placed in your path. This is the kind of joy and happiness money, job titles, power and fame can never buy!

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About the author: Bill Flint is the founder, president, and CEO of Flint Strategic Partners located in Goshen, Indiana. His firm provides servant leadership training, strategic planning and sales and marketing strategy and implementation. He is also the author of the best-selling book, The Journey To Competitive Advantage Through Servant Leadership.

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