Servant Leader Essay
Each and every one of us has come across excellent leaders in our work centers and in life. These types of people leave a lasting impression on us and we forever remember their names. We learn from these leaders and we grow from these leaders. From their efforts we become great leaders ourselves. There are many types of leadership styles ranging from autocratic leadership to bureaucratic leadership, servant leadership to transformation leadership, and from democratic leadership to laissez-faire leadership. With so many types of leadership styles, it may be hard for a leader to choose their own style. Autocratic leadership is when a leader extends high level of control and authority over their employees (vector study 2008). Many employees do not like autocratic leadership because they don’t have a voice and it can lead to high turnover. Bureaucratic leaders work by the book and have high levels of control over employees similar to autocratic leaders. Democratic leaders let team members become more involved unlike autocratic and bureaucratic leaders. Laissez-faire leadership means to “let it be”, employees are left to do work independently but in this style of leadership there is no control and things can fall through the cracks.
For general introduction purposes, there are two types of inspiration leadership styles left. These two types of leaders bring change to any organization and inspire us all. The first is a transformation leader, which is a true leader who inspires all. An example of a transformation leader would be our President Barack Obama. The second is the servant leader; the servant leader is no ordinary leader. The servant leader leads and serves with great purpose. The servant leader is a unique leader. A servant leader is a special type of leader. This is a leader that we always will remember and inspire to be just like them. A servant leader puts others needs before their own. A servant leader can be a hero, an amazing leader, and an inspiration to all. Not many are called to be servant leaders, but the ones that are have put others before themselves and they will always be respected for their leadership style. What is a Servant Leader?
The term, servant leader was coined by a man named Robert K. Greenleaf. The concept was developed in 1970 in which Greenleaf wrote about what is a servant leader. Servant leadership is a practice of leadership that is support by many. Servant leaders are expected to gain results for their organizations by putting the needs of their colleagues above their own (Greenleaf 1970). “Servant leaders are often seen as humble stewards of their organizations resources: human, financial, and physical” (Greenleaf 1970, p.45). A servant leader is always a servant first and always contributes to the well being of people and the community (Greenleaf 1970). I believe a servant leader is one of the best types of leaders because people come first. Their main focus is people. A servant leader must have a natural feeling of wanting to serve first (Greenleaf 1970). This includes putting the leaders personal feelings aside and concentrating on the feelings of the people served. Servant leaders will always gain followers because of their character and personality. A servant leader helps their followers to grow into successful and satisfied individuals (Neushel 2005).
In the workplace we all want to grow and be more successful and satisfied that is why having a servant leader around is helpful. We remember servant leaders because they are rare and not every successful manager/leader will ever become a servant leader. Neushel compared servant leadership to biblical times. He stated a leader is the shepherd of the flock; they wash their feet as well as apply the whip. This means a servant leader has a strong sense of caring for whatever they lead and they blend it with compassion and force (Neushel 2005). A servant leader will always lead from the front, go before their followers, and never tag along in the rear (Neushel 2005). This concept makes me think of a military servant leader. A servant military leader will always lead by example and would never led their platoon into danger without going in first. It also reminds me of a leader in a police squad. The police servant leader will never let their followers go into danger without them going into it first. Think of a police raid. The servant leader or police squad leader will enter the house first; the other officers will follow. Not everyone has what it takes to be a servant leader; only a select few can truly be called a servant leader. Characteristics of a Servant Leader
Larry Spears has served as the President and CEO of the Robert Greenleaf center for servant leadership since 1990 (Greenleaf 1970). He has taken away from Greenleaf’s concepts a set ten characteristics that are essential to the development of a servant leader. These characteristics are: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community (Autry 2004). Listening is first and one of the most important characteristic any leader should possess. A servant leader is actively motivated to listen to their subordinates and support them in the decision making process. To possess empathy a servant leader attempts to understand and empathize with others. Healing is a great strength of a servant leader (Autry 2004). “A servant leader tries to help people solve their problems and conflicts in relationships” (Autry, 2004, p.4).
A servant leader must have awareness, this means to view situations with awareness. Persuasion means a servant leader never takes advantage of their power and status and they rather convince those they manage (Autry 2004). A servant leader has conceptualization, this means they think beyond the day-to-day tasks and sees beyond limits focusing on long term goals (Autry 2004). They also foresight which means they learn about the past to better understand the present. A very important characteristic they need is stewardship. Stewardship is the core of servant leadership because it’s the obligation to help and serve others; this is what servant leadership is all about (Autry 2004). A servant leader is very committed to the growth of their people. This means they will “nurture the personal, professional and spiritual growth of their employees” (Autry 2004). And lastly a servant leader has the characteristic of building community. A servant leader looks for ways to build a strong community within and outside their organization (Autry 2004). These ten characteristics are not all inclusive but they should be used for each servant leader to develop personally. How to become a servant leader
Developing the qualities of a servant leader is extremely difficult because the servant leader needs to prove they are more selfless than selfish (Neushel 2005). This is very hard to do because every person has selfishness in their character. Becoming a servant leader requires motivation, feedback, and lots of discipline (Hunter 2004). Someone cannot become a leader by reading a manual on how to become a leader. “We become leaders by applying our learning, knowledge, feedback, and experience to our everyday lives” (Hunter, 2004, p.19). Servant leadership is one of the most powerful forms of leadership. I believe this because the bible mentions leading and serving. Leading and serving are the key principles to servant leadership. In the book of Matthew, Jesus made a statement about leadership. “He says that anyone who wishes to be a leader must first be a servant. If oneself choices to lead, oneself must serve” (Hunter, 2004, p. 19). There are some personal and professional habits we can use to improve our servant leadership. The first one is to get started early. This means the best way to build servant leadership into the foundation of our companies is by putting it out there early. Ensure it is built into the founding values of the company.
Another habit is having an organizational pyramid that other employees can climb (Spiro 2010). People want to feel like they can work their way to the top of an organization. A lot of problems can arise when employees only see the boss on the top of the pyramid and there are no methods others can get there. Another very important habit all servant leaders should have is to listen. Everyone wants to feel like their leaders care about them and listen to their problems. A servant leader is an excellent leader because not only does he/she listen, they take mental notes and think of ways to better the situation. The last habit servant leaders should have is to expand the family (Spiro 2010). This means treating the customers as good as family are treated. Greenleaf the pioneer of servant leadership believed that leaders of organizations should care about every person that an organization touches (Spiro 2010). This means developing quality relationships with vendors and partners so they feel a part of the family. Besides habits there are six concepts about servant leadership that are essential to the craft. First, leadership is not about controlling people, it’s about caring for people (Spiro 2010). I can see why this is the first concept.
Caring for people in an organization is especially important, it can determine if an organization keeps employees or loses them. The second concept is being present and available. A leader needs to be approachable and available for employees. The third concept is about letting go of ego and being the best individual possible. No one wants to work for an egotistical leader. The forth concept is about creating a work environment where people can do good work, find meaning in their work, and bring their spirits to work (Autry 2010). Everyone wants to work in a work environment where they can thrive and feel good at. The fifth concept is to pay attention as a leader. Pay attention to the people being led. Pay attention to their needs, goals, and dreams. A leader who pays attention speaks volumes in the workplace. The last concept says “leadership requires love” (Autry 2010). A servant leader has to love taking care of their people. They have to love their job and love the workers and customers. Advantages/Disadvantages
There are a few advantages and disadvantages found on being a servant leader. Employees are treated very well by servant leaders. This leads to an excellent treatment of customers as well. When customers are treated well they have very high loyalty to that company. Another advantage servant leaders have is they are highly respected and get high performance from employees due to respect. There are not many disadvantages a servant leader has. The first disadvantage is the characteristics of a servant leader seem excessive and only a few leaders can actually fulfill these qualities (Autry 2004). Another disadvantage is servant leadership is seen as a lifelong commitment. There was also an extensive critique written by Deborah Eicher-Catt that had many disadvantages of a servant leader and how she found the term to be a myth. Even though there are disadvantages to this style of leadership, I still feel like it’s a quality type of leadership and leaders should strive for this leadership style. Growing Future Servant Leaders
The true test of all leaders is if they can grow future leaders that are as good or better than they were. Robert Neushel the author of “Servant leader, unleashing your power of your people” said the greatest experience he had in life was to grow another person and to increase another’s capacity and desire to contribute (Neushel 2005). Neushel felt it was very important for servant leaders to grow more servant leaders. There are ingredients needed to grown a future servant leader. First a servant leader has to look for people with high potential. This means identifying individuals with basic leadership qualities in place already and looking for motivation, judgment, and the energy of this person (Neushel 2005). Leaders also have to set high expectations for future leaders.
Demanding excellent is a must. “No organization achieves greatness unless there is a restless desire for excellent, demands and expectations are high, unless great demands are made” (Neushel, 2005, p. 113). Excellence is the highest form of achievement. Servant leaders must practice and strive for excellence. Servant leaders also help future servant leaders on setting self-improvement objectives. A servant leader has to be developed and developing oneself is apart of the process. A servant leader should coach future servant leaders. Coaching happens through sharing their experiences with potential leaders. And lastly a servant leader must provide feedback to future servant leaders. Feedback is needed to help leaders know where they are at and how they can improve. Great Servant Leaders & Companies who focus on Servant leadership
There are so many great servant leaders that I will not be able to name them all. After the concept of the servant leader came out many companies adopted the vision into their company’s core and policies. David Holmes is the CEO of Reynolds & Reynolds and he is an example of a servant leader and his company also focuses on servant leadership (Neushel 2005). David has always spoken of deep commitment and involvement to his organization and the people in his company (Neushel 2005). David is a leader that is always available and among his people; because of this they know his involvement is for real (Neushel 2005). It is said that he is totally dedicated to the company and all the employees know this about him (Neushel 2005). There are many military leaders that are true servant leaders. They have chosen to serve while leading and some have made the ultimate sacrifice when serving. Another example of servant leadership in a company would be Starbucks coffee company. Servant leadership is aligned with Starbucks mission and principles.
“Starbucks employees are focused on being of service to each other, the communities where they operate, and to each customer one cup at a time” (Neushel , 2005, p. 113). There is even a list that reveals the top ten organizations practicing servant leadership. Some of the companies on this list include Federal Express, Marriott Hotels, Nestle, and Wal-mart. These companies practice servant leadership and are very successful companies. Two companies really stood out to me because their entire company is focused around servant leadership. The first company is TDindustries founded by Jack Lowe Sr. TDindustries is one of the earliest company to practice servant leadership in a corportate setting (Spears 2002). The founder Jack would have each employee read the essay “The Servant as leader” by Greenleaf (Spears 2002). He would have the employees gather into small groups and discuss its meaning (Spears 2002). Jack believed managers should serve their employees and customers and this has become an important value for TD industries (Spears 2002). More than 30 years later the company still has new employees read Greenleaf’s essay and take training modules to understand servant leadership (Hunter 2004).
“Trustworthiness, which requires character and competence can only flourish with leadership that trusts, supports, and encourages. At TD we call that servant-leadership” (Spears, 2002, p. 18). TD industries also gives back to the community and they are involved with multiple organizations ranging from Hearts to Hammers which builds homes for the disadvantage, to meals on wheels who delivers food to the elderly (Spears 2002). The second power organization that is built on servant leadership is Southwest Airlines. Herb Kelleher is the CEO of Southwest Airlines and has been a servant leader himself and developing servant leaders for years. Herb stated he is trying to find out what people are like at the center of their being, he wants to know is they have a servant leadership attitude and mentality (Spears 2002). He looks for this type of person to work for his company. Servant leadership is apart of the daily operations at Southwest.
This is shown in the daily operations as the front line employees that solve customer problems and the pilots and executives even load baggage and clean airplanes (Spears 2002). What company has even the pilots serving by cleaning the airplane? I could not think of one until I read what Southwest leaders do. Southwest has the highest on time arrivals, lowest number of complaints, and the fewest baggage claims per 1000 passengers (Spears 2002). No wonder Southwest is number one. Herbs key strategy is focusing on employees and when that is done, customers will get treated well beyond any expectation (Spears 2002). Southwest is also a servant in the community. They provide meals for Ronald McDonald house and have a program called adopt a pilot where pilots work with students in schools on math, science, and geography (Spears 2002). Conclusion
No author noted, Vector study 2008. Retrieved from:http://www.vectorstudy.com/management_topics/types_of_leadership.htm 2. Greenleaf, R. (1970). Servant Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.greenleaf.org/whatissl/ 3. Neushel, R. (2005). The Servant Leader: Unleashing the power of your people. Northwestern University Press. Ebook, retrieved from 4. Hunter. J. (2004). World’s most powerful leadership principle: How to Become a servant Leader. Crown Publishing Group. Westminster, MD. 5. Autry, J. (2004). Servant Leader: How to build a creative team, develop great morale, and improve bottom line performance. Crown Publishing Group. Westminster, MD. 6. Spiro, J. (2010). How to become a servant leader. Retrieved from: http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/08/how-to-become-a-servant-leader.html 7. Spears. L (2002). Focus on Leadership: Servant Leadership for the twenty-first century. Wiley and Sons. Ebook. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com