The traditional, hierarchical leadership style has increased more and more in modern, data-driven companies with various workforces. Servant Leadership offers an alternative in the interests of the employees.
Servant Leadership – Definition & History
Servant Leadership describes a leadership style in which growth, well -and the ability of the employees are the focus. It is intended to create an integrative environment that enables every employee to develop personally. While traditional leadership focuses on the success of the company or the organization, Servant Leadership puts the employees in the first place. The organization should grow its commitment and commitment. Correctly implemented, the concept of Servant Leadership can contribute to it,
- Growth and
- Integration at the workplace
- to promote.
Her supporters also state that Servant Leadership improves the emotional health of employees and thus enables them to comment more freely in the workplace. The employees pass on the same type of support to their colleagues and thus create an inviting environment that promotes and enables growth and quality work.
An important aspect of Servant Leadership is to accept others. This creates a “psychological-ethical climate” that allows employees to be authentic and not be afraid of the leadership assessment. The service also promotes an empathetic attitude that allows employees to make mistakes, learn from them, and convert this into personal and professional growth.
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The theory of Servant Leadership goes back to Robert K. Greenleaf, who made the term popular in the 1970s with his essay “The Servant As Leader”. Greenleaf had inspired the story “The Morstland trip” by Hermann Hesse. The story revolves around the protagonist Leo, a servant who suddenly disappears from his job. After that, the productivity and effectiveness of the other employees break in – it reveals that Leo was actually a leader.
So Greenleaf came to the conviction that the concept of Servant Leadership works to create more trust and autonomy. He tested his theory for the first time as part of an activity as a manager at AT&T – now she has established herself as an effective leadership style over the course of the decades.
Servant Leadership models
Greenleaf’s original premise of Servant Leadership was relatively vague compared to other management approaches and models. This has led to various interpretations of his original idea, either to expand the concept or to offer more specific guidelines for how Servant Leadership can look in practice.
Larry Spears, former President of Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, tears down into “Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective Caring Leaders” The qualities that have to show influential servant leaders:
- To listen,
- Commitment to enable people to grow and
- to build a community.
Two researchers from the University of Nebraska (PDF) transferred these ten properties of Spears to a framework called “The Natural Desire To Help Others”. This leads to five dimensions of Servant Leadership:
- altruistic calling,
- emotional healing,
- convincing representation and
- Organizational responsibility.
Joe Iarocci, the author of “Servant Leadership in the Workplace”, defines three main priorities (people develop, build a trusting team, achieve results), and three key principles (first serve, convince, enable). Three key practices (listening, delegating, supporters with the Connect mission) describe what Servant Leadership looks like in the workplace.
Experts from the American Psychological Association developed nine “functional attributes of Servant Leadership”:
- Role model function,
- Pioneering work,
- Appreciation of others and
In addition, they have developed eleven “accompanying attributes”:
- To listen,
- Teaching and
Servant Leadership – characteristics
According to Greenleaf, the most essential property of a Servant leader is to serve and not want to lead primarily. Serving managers are more interested in the needs of the employees and supporting them to develop further in the company. This is in contrast to a leadership style that is primarily profit-oriented and command-focused. Greenleaf has not outlined exactly which character traits a strong servant Leadership makes up.
However, the researchers James Sipe and Don Frick have dealt with his work and outlined seven pillars of Servant Leadership, which fall within the borders of Greenleaf’s original theory.
- Personal with character: A serving manager keeps integrity, makes decisions based on ethics and principles, is modest, and serves a greater purpose in the organization.
- People first of all: A Servant Leader helps employees to achieve their goals and grow within the organization.
- Clever communicator: Communication skills are an essential part of Servant Leadership. It is important to ensure that the employees listen effectively and ask for feedback.
- Compassionate collaborator: In order to be a strong serving manager, a Servant Leader must consistently work with others together and strengthen relationships, promote diversity, equality, and integration, and cope with conflicts in the workplace.
- Actively act: A Servant Leader has to keep an eye on the future and predict what could affect the organization. He also needs a strong vision for the organization and must be able to act decisively.
- System thinker: Serving managers must find their way around in complex environments and be able to adapt to changes. This type of leadership requires strategic thinking and the ability to effectively guide changes in the organization.
- Moral authority: Servant Leaders create trust within the workforce by determining, taking responsibility, delegating, and promoting a culture that allows responsibility.
Servant Leadership examples
In the tech industry, the concept of Servant Leadership is often found in agile development environments – more precisely in Scrum teams. The Scrum Master is not necessarily a manager – rather a team member who works closely with other agile employees and takes responsibility for the definition of the requirements, the creation of sprint plans, and the removal of obstacles on the way there.
The best-known servant leadership supporters in the corporate world include, for example:
- Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Co.,
- Susan Wojcicki, CEO from YouTube,
- Paul Polman, CEO von Unilever,
- Howard Schultz, CEO von Starbucks, and
- Tim Cook, Apple CEO.
For example, these leaders are characterized by the fact that they act risk and employee -oriented and more based on success than on profit.
Servant Leadership – Training & Training
Training and training offered on Servant Leadership can be found among other things with the following providers:
Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership
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