Practical ways to practise servant leadership - Deepstash

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Your Complete Guide to Servant Leadership

Practical ways to practise servant leadership

  • Trust and respect. Treat everyone on your team as a whole person.
  • Accountability. Hold yourself accountable knowing that no one is perfect.
  • Listening. Actively solicit your team members’ participation, their ideas, and their feedback such that you can tailor your leadership approach to each one of them accordingly.
  • Service to others. Encourage your team members, through your words and actions, to set aside self-serving behaviours in favour of serving others.
  • Mentoring. Offer selfless mentorship.
  • Persistence. Practise persistence with patience, realising that one or two conversations may not have the desired change in an employee’s assumptions or mindset.

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Servant leadership

Is a leadership philosophy that is built on the belief that the most effective leaders strive to serve others, rather than accrue power or take control. 

Servant leadership vs. other leadership styles

The authoritarian leadership style:

  • The authoritarian style of leadership requires leaders to have total decision-making power and absolute control over their subordinates. Servant leadership upends the top-down power structure.

Similar leadership styles:

  • Ethical leadership urges leaders to show respect for the values and dignity of their subordinates. Servant leadership's emphasis on taking responsibility for the needs and desires of others.
  • Participative leadership style requires leaders to involve subordinates in setting goals, building teams and solving problems but keep the final decision-making in their own hands. Servant leadership includes some of these elements.
Attributes of a servant leader
  • Listening. A servant leader seeks to identify the will of a group and helps to clarify that will.
  • Empathy. A servant leader assumes the good intentions of co-workers and does not reject them as people.
  • Healing. Understand part of their leadership responsibility is to help make whole employees whose sense of self is precarious.
  • Awareness.
  • Persuasion. Servant leaders rely on persuasion not positional authority or coercion, to convince others.
  • Conceptualization. Balancing between thinking big and managing everyday reality.
  • Foresight. The ability to understand the past and see the present clearly to predict how the future will unfold.
  • Stewardship. CEOs, staffs and trustees all have a responsibility to hold the institution "in trust" for the greater good of society.
  • Commitment to the growth of people. Feel a responsibility to nurture the growth of employees.
  • Building community. Find ways to build community in their institutions.
Servant leader traits
  • Isn’t concerned about acquiring or holding onto power.
  • Isn’t focused on maintaining a certain reputation above all else.
  • Isn’t obsessed with staying ahead of everyone else on the ladder.
  • Doesn’t fear employees gaining skills and knowledge beyond their own.
  • Doesn’t use domination or fear to control people
  • Doesn’t think in terms of controlling people at all, really.
  • Places high value on the community.
  • Is committed to the growth and improvement of those being led.
How to become a Servant Leader
  1. Be a good listener. Try to determine what the desire of the group or individuals are. 
  2. Practice empathy. Empathy allows you to get past surface issues and to discover what is going on.
  3. Embrace concepts of healing. The servant leader recognizes the brokenness of people and looks for ways to make broken people well.
  4. Be aware of the obvious and the subtle, both in your own life and in other’s lives.
  5. Be persuasive. Use the power of persuasion to help people choose the right path as needed instead of demanding the path.
  6. Be able to conceptualize. Servant leaders are big-picture thinkers, thinking of what their team needs to do to accomplish everything, not just the one thing in front of them.
  7. Be a good steward. A steward is someone who holds onto something and keeps it in good condition for others who need it down the road.
  8. Love the community.
Servant Leadership Work

Studies have shown that servant leadership and the empowerment and teamwork that accompay it trickle down. Higher level managers who turn from selfish leadership to selfless leadership end up creating lower-level managers and other employees who then do the same.

Ways to establish a culture of servant leadership
  • Let others see you serve and encourage them to join you.
  • Make sure they know that you care. Being knowledgeable does not make you a good leader - being caring does.
  • Invest your time in your people. Regularly connect with them.
  • Don’t place restrictions on your willingness to serve.
A servant leader is not a dictator

A dictator barks out orders and does not take into account the wants and needs of others. 

Servant leaders work tirelessly to develop their people and are focused on what they can do for others.