I was talking to a dear friend earlier this week and she asked me what a Servant Leader was. Since it is often miss-used or miss-understood, I decided to just write an article about it. There is a lot to say about this, but a short intro into the subject can be found here (Thank you my dear friend, for the idea, I won't mention your name, but you know who you are)
More and more companies and organisations are stepping away from “old school” management styles and moving into a more coaching style of management.
We’re not only seeing this in hierarchical structures, but also in team related organisations.
One of the roles needed to make this move is through Servant leadership.
A servant leader(ship) is a style of leadership where managers or coaches (which would be a better choice of word in this specific case) tend to value the well-being, satisfaction and growth of other and their teams, more than their own. It’s not that they don’t want to grow themselves, but they realise that when their teams are feeling well, improve and build success, that this will reflect on them as well and they will book success of their own. This way everyone grows together. They learn, fail and concur as a whole.
As you most likely will realise, this is not really a style of management/coaching which is a given to everyone. You, as a servant leader, must realise and be happy with the fact that your needs are not most important but that they are fulfilled indirectly through others. It takes a very specific mind set and person to handle a role like this.
Some of the main features/characteristics of a servant leader are :
- Listening : as in really listening and understanding when a person is talking. Not pretending to listen and in the meantime thinking about what and how you can reply
- Appreciative : Thank you, Good job, and problem solving are things that come to mind here
- Humility : your ego is not important, it’s putting other people first which is important
- Trust : Giving trust to others
- Caring : a display of kindness and respect
Some industries tend to have more servant leaders than other. Just a few examples where you can easily find them or where they thrive :
- IT / Project management
- Customer service
- Human resources
If you take a look at the qualities of a servant leader, I think that these industries kinda make sense
If you’re interested in becoming a servant leader, I have good news for you. It is something which can be taught, but the ones that excel in it and have mastered it, have learned it by experience and is part of their character.
As an Agile coach and trainer (and the reason I have written this article), Servant leadership is one of the most important things in our day-to-day work life and private life. It’s not really something you can turn on/off.