The idea of being a servant leader has been around for centuries, with one of the earliest references noted in Tao Te Ching back in the 500 BCE era. Those of the Christian faith will note that there are references to being a servant leader in the Christian Bible (Mark 10:42-45 as an example). Lastly, the work of Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 publication The Servant as Leader has been credited with the modern movement of servant leadership.
Since the concept of being a servant leader has been established for a long time (45+ years), my question in this article is, are you being a servant leader in your day to day life?
What Is a Servant Leader?
Values diverse opinions. Listens to everyone and always solicit feedback and opinions.
Cultivates a culture of trust. Trust is earned and should be highly valued.
Develops other leaders. Provides the opportunity to foster future leaders.
Helps people with life issues. Goes beyond the workplace and cares about the personal life of others.
Encourages. Is the biggest fan to those they are leading.
Sells instead of tells. Focuses on persuading others of their goals instead of simply telling them what to do.
Thinks "you," not "me." Focuses on team member growth and removes the thought of "how this benefits me."
Thinks long-term. Looks down the road, toward the next leader or opportunity.
Acts with humility. Does whatever it takes, leaving title aside, for the greater good.
In short, a servant leader places their needs and desires below the needs and desires of others, placing the focus on building up and encouraging individuals whenever possible.
How Can I Become a Servant Leader?
Becoming a servant leader comes naturally to some, while others may struggle with applying the qualities to their daily life. I believe the determination is more related to the personality and ambition of the individual more than anything else.
For me, the initial adoption hasn't been all that difficult. However, as much as I want to place my focus on being a servant leader to others, I still have occasions where I fail to be implementing Prichard's nine qualities.
In order to keep my focus on becoming a servant leader, I started a simple routine a few weeks ago. Using the nine qualities, I created a Post-It note with each quality and placed one at the bottom of my monitor. That single quality will remain on my monitor for one week so that I can focus on applying that one principle into my daily routine. At the start of the next week, I pick another principle to focus on.
So far, I've noticed that having the reminder has been quite helpful for me. Interestingly enough, I continue to utilize prior week's principles, as well, which leads me to believe the approach is working. Seeing the reminder keeps the thought in the forefront of my mind, which makes it easier to utilize.
While a majority of this article is talking about the "leader" aspect of being a servant leader, you don't have to have the title of "leader" to apply the principles set forth by Skip Prichard. Professionals who are working in a non-leadership role can find value in the principles (especially when interacting and communicating with others).
I have found focusing on becoming a servant leader has had not only a positive impact on my daily work life but in my personal life as well.
Are you being a servant leader? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.