As business evolves and change accelerates, developing as a servant leader is vital. Servant leadership is a distinguishing factor among high performing organizations that engage cohesive and collaborative teams that leave a lasting impact, not only in productivity and profitability, but also in the way they engage and serve those they influence, both within and outside of the organization.
So what is servant leadership and what does it take to become one?
While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in “The Servant as Leader”, an essay that he first published in 1970. Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. For more information about the essay and Robert Greenleaf’s concept, click HERE.
In my role as an Executive Coach and Group Leader for Excell Puget Sound Kitsap, I have the opportunity to meet with Executives and CEO’s regularly. In building our group, I am seeking those who are life-long learners committed to growing and developing companies that are successful in both relationships and results. In essence, I’m looking for servant leaders who recognize the value of humility and acknowledge that receiving support and accountability from a group of like-minded peers isn’t considered weak, but is actually a sign of strength.
I had the privilege of meeting this type of leader this week. Bruce MacDonald, President and COO of Applied TechnicalSystems models servant leadership from the moment you meet him. He is a man of high integrity, warmth and humility who gets results. Leaders in his company have high regard for him, and as I network in the community, he has been recommended as a person to meet by several other leaders in Kitsap County. Bruce has made a life-long commitment to developing his skill set in this area and during our inspiring conversation, he shared the following insight with me and has given me permission to share these tips with you. This list will help you decide where your opportunities for growth are as you develop as a servant leader:
Eight Things Those You Are Privileged To Lead Have a Right to Expect From You
- To know your character. If I follow you, will I know who you really are? Will you deal with me with integrity?
- That you’ll take the time to explain your vision. What’s the future and where do I fit? Is there a place for me or will you simply “use” me?
- To never be left in isolation. Will you be there for me? Will you care for me? Will you care about my needs?
- To be heard. To whom will you listen? When you’re busy and overloaded, will I still be heard, taken seriously and appreciated?
- To be trusted. Can I take initiative without fear? Will my ideas be rewarded and encouraged or will I be regarded with suspicion and distanced?
- To be given an opportunity to grow. Will I be encouraged to be a lifelong learner? Will my gifts be increasingly identified and expressed? Will I be developed?
- To be held accountable. Will I be fairly evaluated for my performance? Will I be held to the highest standards for my life? Will you show me how to do it better and be patient while I learn and self-correct?
- To be the object of grace. Will I be forgiven even in the face of shortcomings, inadequacies and failure? Will I be lead with kindness?
That’s What Followers Have a Right to Expect of You – So Don’t Let Them Down!
Servant leadership is not for the faint of heart as the list of expectations above indicate. It requires a willingness to be transparent and to take risks, to have empathy and curiosity and to communicate openly and consistently.
How would you rate yourself as a servant leader on a scale of 1 – 10, with “1” being not at all to “10” being I regularly and consistently show up as a servant leader each and every day without exception? What action will you take to develop your skills as a servant leader? And who will hold you accountable?