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A Servant Leader Focuses on People’s Strengths

Photo attributed to: wocintechchat.com

A Servant Leader Focuses on People’s Strengths

People who want to help other people grow and succeed should be recruited into leadership positions. The motivation of such a leader is the will to serve, not the advancement of one’s own career. Leadership is a servant position. In servant leadership the superior focuses on taking care of the big picture and that his/her own team can succeed. It emphasizes listening to, empowering and respecting employees. Authoritative and indifferent leadership can be considered to be the opposite, where employees feel they are easily replacable and where they are not heard. I think that servant leadership is an important challenge of development for leadership. A fine thought that employees will become each other’s servants as well is tied to this. I like the fact that in servant leadership the people doing the work are considered number one.

A Direct Connection to Work Engagement

The discussion on servant leadership started in the United States in the 1970s. According to research, it strengthens trust, creativity, commitment to work and the experience of fairness. In addition, it improves efficiency and the innovation of teams. Servant leadership has a clear connection to work engagement. Work engagement is vigor, dedication and enjoyment of absorption into work. It increases both the well-being of the employees and the productivity of the workplace. Empowerment, empathy and the appreciation of employees are at the core of servant leadership. Exactly those things are known to be tied to experiencing work engagement. A servant leader aims to create work conditions that energize people and prevent burn-out.

Genuineness Raises Trust

The traits of a servant leader are genuineness, humility, courage and the ability to forgive. Genuineness means that the professional role does not cover what the person is like otherwise. Only a genuine superior can raise trust. Humility comes from the superior knowing his/her strengths and shortcomings. He/she appreciates and knows how to lead also those employees that are more skilled than he/she is. The superior also has the guts to be in the background and let his/her own team be in the limelight. A servant leader does not hold grudges and is not vindictive. The ability to forgive is not “softness”, instead, it builds trust. With the aid of that the work community dares to take risks and try new ways of doing things.

Employees Are Number One

Servant leadership is not an “ism” that should replace some other leadership theory. Its core things are valuable — no matter what you call them. I like it that in servant leadership employees are bravely considered number one. Many companies declare that the customers are number one. In my opinion, customers will receive good service only if the employees are doing well and are working contented. The superior’s job is to take care of the people, so that they can flourish and produce valuable results. Only from this standpoint can an organization’s strategies and goals be realized. A servant leader does not focus on the weaknesses of the employee. If the goal is to only develop those, the result will be a monotonous group. It’s better to become familiar with each person’s strengths, develop those and arrange as many assignments as possible where he/she has a good possibility to succeed.

“Should I Become a Servant Now”

Many researchers of servant leadership have come across the fact that the name of this leadership theory annoys some people. They have said that it’s all right that it provokes and challenges a little. When you lecture at work places on servant leadership, no employee has criticized the thought of a superior who respects and encourages their people. Some superiors may worry that the hierarchies will disappear and the power will move to the employees: Should I become a servant then?

Acting as a servant of the work community however does not mean that the roles will turn upside down. A servant leader is primus inter pares, the first among one’s equals. He/she may also be assertive. However, the assertiveness must radiate that it’s not about bossing somebody. Giving responsibility to employees also includes the freedom to carry out one’s assignments in a way that one deems best.

Let’s Not Withhold Appreciation!

At its best servant leadership is a habit that unites the entire work place. It’s difficult for one superior to carry it out in an organization where others are selfishly used for one’s own goals. I speak for a culture of generosity: we are at the work place to help one another at work. Let’s not withhold appreciation, giving thanks and feedback! Providing them is for everybody — it’s not just the job of the superiors and leadership. A strong part of the culture of generosity is the sharing of knowledge. For instance, it means that one is ready to give advice to one’s colleagues and provide one’s ideas for the use of all.

Superior, what are you like as a servant leader?

· Do you listen to your employees often enough and carefully enough?

· Do you provide them with space to utilize their own judgment, skills and experiences?

· Do you clearly state what you expect of employees and what they are responsible for?

· Do you genuinely trust the employees?

· Do you encourage being proactive, development and taking responsibility?

· Do you help the progress of common goals? Do you direct your team’s attention to the big picture?

· Do you show appreciation and do you provide motivating feedback often?

· Do you recognize your own weaknesses and your strengths as well?

· Are you happy about and proud of the experts in your team?

· Do you give thanks and credit to those who have done the work?

· Do you know how to receive criticism and learn from it?