The practice of being a servant leader can help your organization achieve great things. The purpose behind servant leadership is to, as a leader, serve the people or followers that you are leading. The act of servant leadership has a responsible notion that he or she is accountable for the well being of those that are “less privileged”, where there are possible “inequalities” or injustices that may exist and if so removing those barriers (Northouse 2016). This person is able to use less power and give more power to the people that are being led (Northouse 216). Under servant leadership, there are ten characteristics that one should represent in order to effectively become a servant leader.
A servant leader needs to be able to effectively listen to their followers and have a good communication. Having the discipline to listen is “one of the most sincere forms of respect” and shows that you are expressing an interest to that individual (Daskal 2016). Expressing empathy to individuals shows them that you understand the constraints or challenges that they may face and you have an understanding from their perspective. The servant leader should be able to heal followers. Servant leaders show a compassion for their followers and their personal well-being by “healing to make one whole” (Northouse 2016). Northouse discusses that Robert Greenleaf, who is the founder of servant leadership, describes the healing as both ways from the servant leader to the follower. As a leader heals a follower, they too are healed as well. Focusing on awareness of their surroundings and what is taking place. The art of awareness allows the servant leader to remove themselves from a situation and look at “perspectives” that may be changed for the better good of the organization. Using a persuasion technique is far better than forcing followers to perform or complete tasks. Allowing the follower to see the reason for the action and allows them to embrace the course of action, rather than being forced to do so. The value of a servant leader to conceptualize the tasks or goals provides a much narrow path to take while not keeping things to broad. Having a clear sense of goals or actions places emphasis on the challenges at hand and what needs to take place to overcome them. Focusing on “the big picture” weeds out the “day to day” mundane tasks of the operation (Northouse 2016). The foresight attribute could be one of the strongest to have. A leader needs to be able to fore-see things that will happen in the future. This keeps a competitive edge on many levels and promotes a sense of direction. Essentially, you need to be proactive in depicting the future based on the present time compared to what has happened previously (Northouse 2016). The commitment to see people grow can be a rewarding experience. After all, what good is a servant leader if they do not see that their employees grow. As a committed leader to each person, leaders want to see them “grow personally and professionally” Northouse 2016). This is based off an inclusion of people making choices for the organization and for themselves so that they can grow. Lastly, a servant leader should build a strong community within the organization. Having a group of individuals that can feel comfortable and be able to “connect with others” allows for a wonderful working environment (Northouse 2016). This example represents wanting to come to work each and every day feeling good about what you contribute while building strong relationships.
We have just discussed the attributes that a servant leader should have. At some point in our career, everyone has exhibited some form of servant leadership in a work environment. We can ask ourselves this question, Can we do more for our followers and help them succeed? This understanding can be a win/win scenario for both the leader and the follower.
Northouse, P. G. Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. 2016
Daskal, Lolly: The Dilemma of the Servant Leader.
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