Servant Leader

Servant Leadership – This is one of the most powerful leadership philosophies and as leaders all of us can display this philosophy.

Servant Leadership, popularized by Robert K. Greenleaf – was inspired by Herman Hesse’s novel Journey to the East. The story is about a group of men journeying on a pilgrimage together. One of the main characters was a servant named Leo. Leo accompanied the group doing menial tasks, but helped keep morale high —until he disappeared. Without Leo, the group ultimately fell apart and abandoned their pilgrimage. However, several years later, Leo reappeared —and we realise that Leo, despite his servant’s attitude, was actually the noble leader of the organization that sponsored the pilgrimage in the first place.

Servant Leaders focus on serving their teams, help remove their roadblocks, listen to them, help them succeed.

It is one of the toughest traits to live on a regular basis. Because we have our egos, we believe we know better, we don’t want to hear though we listen. However, you can be mindful and start practicing this. Consciously.

Agile ways of working dovetail perfectly with the concept of Servant Leadership, roles such as RTE, Product Owner and Scum Master are founded on servant leadership. 

These are just some of the many benefits of Servant Leadership that I have seen in-real-life: 

  • A Servant Leader empowers their teams – empowered employees are more engaged
  • A Servant Leader makes their teams feel valued – valued employees are more loyal
  • A Servant Leader gives their teams autonomy – trusted employees are more innovative

Here are some simple practices that anyone can adopt to become a Servant Leader: 

  • Listen to your team – daily and intently
  • Give empowerment and encourage collaboration – both within and outside of your team
  • Lead by example – never ask someone to do a job you wouldn’t do yourself
  • Value everyone – whatever their role or seniority
  • Encourage personal development – provide growth opportunities
  • Show empathy – reveal your own fears and concerns

Being a Servant Leader is no longer a choice in a modern and progressive workplace, it is a hygiene factor.    Those organisations that favour command & control style leadership over servant leadership will fall behind – embracing servant leadership throughout the organisation will allow everyone to perform at their best. What could possibly be better?


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