Northouse (2016) describes servant leadership as the leader putting the follower and the followers needs before their own. These leaders quietly nurture and support followers as they shift authority to them, which fosters follower confidence and personal development (Northouse, 2016).
As Northouse (2016) explains in the Servant Leadership model, the success of Servant Leadership is influenced by pre-existing conditions, such as work atmosphere, societal rules, the personality traits and moral standing of the leader, and whether the followers in this situation want a servant leader. Servant Leadership can only succeed if the leader can convince followers that their concerns are important and they want them to excel, to support them emotionally, garner their trust, and guide them (Northouse, 2016). That servant leaders can think abstractly, will always be honest and fair, will encourage freethinking, and will contribute to the community(Northouse, 2106). When successful, the results of servant leadership are that followers will grow and excel, increasing their confidence and their team production (Northouse, 2016). Followers will then begin to treat others better, and ultimately society will benefit (Northouse, 2016).
My first thought when I started reading this chapter was that this chapter pertained most to healthcare workers, teachers and clergy because these are all vocations whose focus is on serving others. Northouse (2016) agreed, describing a few different examples throughout this chapter of individuals who were good servant leaders: a nursing supervisor who understands the mission of the hospital as well as the daily needs, a hospice priest who grasps that patients just want someone to listen to them, a professor who puts students’ success ahead of her own, a teacher who provides unbiased guidance to students, and a teacher who empowers his teacher’s assistants by encouraging them to be independent (Northouse, 2016).
I briefly had a manager that utilized this style of leadership. She was an interim nursing director for our unit for a few months, and the full-time director of another unit. She always had time to listen to employees, despite her extra busy schedule managing both units. She did not micromanage, leaving it up to each unit’s charge nurses to make the day to day assignments. She stopped by both units fairly regularly, but only to let everyone know she was around if needed, not to take over. She always stayed until the nightshift came in, and checked in with both units to make sure they were adequately staffed for the night, and also to say hello to staff she didn’t run into often. She made everyone from the cleaning person to the charge nurse feel important and needed.
I wish that more leaders would adopt this style. It does not have to be just these social/service fields that utilize servant leadership. I’ve worked many hourly jobs over the years, and the one thing most of my coworkers had in common was a dissatisfaction with their job that stemmed from a feeling that they did not matter to the company they worked for. This in my view is the number one reason for employee turnover. An employee will not feel loyalty to a company that does not care about him. And it’s not about free lunches and bonuses, (all though those are great!) Servant leadership is about leading by encouraging followers to grow, by really listening to them when they speak, recognizing their contributions and their hard work, and by providing them with the right environment and all the tools that are necessary to be successful at their assigned tasks.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice, 7th Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.