Running a successful business isn’t easy. Most business owners are only concerned with profits and overlook the satisfaction and comfort of their employees. Neglecting employees can lead to low retention rates. Most experts regard retention rates as a reliable metric for determining an organisation’s success.
Spending time learning about different leadership styles and philosophies can help you to develop a more gentle, generous approach to your company’s staff. There are lots of different leadership philosophies in existence so finding the one that is right for you and your business can be a challenge.
One leadership philosophy that is endorsed by some of the marketing world’s heaviest hitters (like Kurt Uhlir, for example) is servant leadership. The servant leadership method involves serving one’s employees whilst simultaneously leading them.
Servant leaders share their power, putting their employees’ needs first and helping them to develop as individuals. Putting your employees’ needs first and serving them instead of them serving you can increase their loyalty and make them more productive.
This post will explore this topic in more detail, offering guidance and advice on incorporating servant leadership into your life and becoming a better manager.
Lead By Example
Leading by example is an important component of servant leadership. If you want to incorporate this high-achieving servant leadership style into your organisation’s operations then you need to begin listening to your team, respecting the chain of command, delivering on promised results, resolving conflicts quickly, valuing individuals, and ensuring organisational cohesiveness.
Modelling the behaviour you want to see in your team can be an effective way of improving employee performance and productivity.
Leading by example is easier said than done, however. Nobody is perfect. You will probably have to grow internally and improve your skill as a leader before you can effectively emulate the ideal employee and motivate staff to copy your behaviour.
Individuals incapable of reflecting upon their behaviour are most likely to fail at servant leadership. Internal reflection and understanding is without a doubt one of the best ways of building character and becoming somebody that everybody else wants to copy. Identify flaws and negative traits in yourself and begin working through, overcoming and moving forwards from them.
Honing Listening Skills
An absence of listening skills can be detrimental to your success as a servant leader. Individuals who do not listen cannot effectively incorporate this leadership style into their organisational management. Fortunately learning to listen is something everybody can do. One of the main reasons people do not listen is because they think that they know better.
If overconfidence or even arrogance is the reason that you have trouble listening to other people’s advice then spend some time working on yourself and getting to grips with the undeniable fact that you don’t know everything.
Even new employees might have better insight into situations than you even if you are a seasoned business professional. Accepting you don’t know it all and like all humans are not infallible can make adhering to the servant leadership style much easier.
While learning to listen is indeed easy it is still something that can take a lot of time so if you want to learn as quickly as possible, consider taking classes. Personal growth classes can be a great way of improving your skills and performance as a servant leader; you could even take a class specifically designed to help you become a better servant leader rather than to just grow personally.
Having and Exhibiting Empathy
Empathy is a characteristic found in all successful servant leaders. Sadly, many people today lack empathy and are totally unaware of it. A lack of empathy can be detrimental to your performance as a servant leader and even as a person, socially speaking that is of course. An absence of empathy is detectable almost immediately.
Individuals devoid of it are very obvious and are generally avoided. If a person has no empathy then it means that they do not care about other people or do not try and put themselves in other people’s shoes, to truly understand their situation. Psychopaths are notable for having no empathy.
Truthfully, empathy is something you either have or do not have; it is not something that’s easily learned. That being said of course you can try to learn to become more empathetic if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
In order to do this you might want to start trying to build relationships with people who have a lot of hardships or troubles in their lives. Dealing with such people can put you in direct contact with people who need empathy from you and as such can help you to hone your skills.
Self-awareness is another characteristic that needs to be learned if you want to have success as a servant leader. Do not think that you can achieve success as one if you do not learn to be aware of your behaviour and how your actions affect other people.
Many business owners are completely unaware of how their behaviour hurts people’s feelings. As the owner of your company people look up to you. Your insight, opinion and behaviour hold a lot of weight. Disparaging an employee can lead to them being ostracised by their colleagues and treated badly.
Because of how much power you personally have and how much of an impact your behaviour will have on your employees, you need to make sure that you are self-aware and make it clear that you are trying to be. When you are in the wrong do not hesitate to rectify the situation and apologise if need be.
At the same time do not weaken yourself in the eyes of your employees. Weakening yourself or making yourself seem as though you are not as powerful as you really are can be bad for your relationship with employees. Maintain control over them while simultaneously showing them you are not infallible and can make mistakes, however infrequent they are.
Mental health issues are more prevalent than ever in American society today. As the head of a company, there is a strong chance some of your employees will be suffering from mental illness. You, therefore, need to do everything in your power to help to heal such individuals.
Bear in mind, however, you are not a therapist. There is a limit to how far you should go to try and help your employees get over their problems.
Another focus of yours as a servant leader should be physical well-being. A lot of people overlook the importance of keeping their bodies fit and healthy. As an employer try and do everything you can to help employees improve the way that they treat themselves and their diets.
You can do this by giving classes on healthy eating and living. You may even want to go a step further and set a gym up inside your office. Companies around the world are installing workplace gyms and they are proving to be very successful and effective ways of keeping staff fit.
Guide and Persuade
As mentioned earlier you have a lot of power over your employees. If you do not use this power in the right way then you can attract your employee’s scorn. An important part of being a servant leader is guiding and persuading employees to do what you want them to do.
While the servant leadership model involves serving one’s employees you must not forget that ultimately you are their employer and it is your company, so what you say goes. Gently guide and persuade your employees to do what you want them to do without directly giving orders or being controlling.
When you are guiding and persuading your employees to do things that you want them to do, do not make the mistake of being too forceful. Being too forceful can undo everything else that you have done personally to make yourself a better servant leader.
At the same time, again, you must remember you are their employer and if a specific employee is really not doing what you want them to do or isn’t completing their duties then you should not hesitate to intervene and tell them that they are misbehaving and need to start behaving more appropriately lest they lose their job.
Learn from Mistakes
Until you learn to learn from your mistakes you will never be able to grow as a person, which is something that will be covered in the next section.
The worst thing you can make yourself look like as the head of a company is a hypocrite; if you portray yourself as a decent and honest person then lying about mistakes you have made and continually making them can be damaging to your reputation and image.
For obvious reasons your image is very important in business – it’s something that you need to do everything you can to improve.
Learning from your mistakes is not as hard as you might think it is. All you need to do is identify when you have made a mistake, work out what went wrong and then try and move on from it.
If you are not honest about your mistakes then you will never be able to grow from them; some people make the mistake of thinking that growth is as easy as saying ‘I made a mistake’ and moving on but that is not true. Unless you seriously sit down and work through what caused you to make the mistakes you have done you can never learn from them.
Growing internally as a person can make you a better servant leader. Remember that as a servant leader, it is your responsibility to serve your employees while leading. Characteristics like arrogance, an inability to listen or disinterest in your employees’ lives can therefore make servant leadership hard to achieve.
You need to be a genuinely kind and considerate person otherwise nobody that works for you is going to believe that you have their best interests at heart. Most likely, they will think that you are just pretending to care about them and their interests and are doing it to get them to work harder.
It can be very difficult to become somebody who is genuinely a good person to follow. People are very good at identifying when somebody is worth following and listening to and when somebody is a hypocrite that should be ignored.
One of the best ways of developing as a servant leader and eliminating all of the negative characteristics you exhibit (if you do) is by taking a course in servant leadership. Servant leadership courses are available all over the web and give you the best shot at becoming a good one.
Positive Work Culture
Work culture is something else that is worth thinking about. While improving who you are as a person can be very beneficial in terms of getting people to follow you and appreciate your implementation of the servant leadership philosophy, if you do not have a positive working culture then nobody is going to care and people are going to be more interested in finishing their tasks for the day and getting as far away from work as possible.
Your employees should like coming to work. Implementing servant leadership can be a good way of getting them to enjoy work but there is a lot more that you need to do as well.
A good way of building and cultivating a positive work culture is to put a lot of emphasis on your employees’ personal lives and mental health.
By working with them to improve their lives outside of work, i.e., by setting up an office gym and encouraging healthy eating, you can improve their attitude to work and make work a place that is much more than just somewhere they go to earn money. As we spend most of our lives at work, transforming the office into somewhere that’s pleasant to spend time in is a good idea.
Servant leadership is arguably the best leadership strategy for modern business owners. If you are interested in incorporating it into your organisational management then you need to pick up and develop the characteristics mentioned here in this post. They can make you a person that your employees want to follow, rather than somebody they have to.