When it comes to leadership, there are many different styles to explore. Your leadership style should take into consideration your personal leadership and workplace culture fit. One type of leadership to consider is Servant Leadership.
In practicing Servant Leadership, managers encourage open communication and self expression, and focus on meeting the needs of their team members, bringing out the best in them. They build a sense of community and joint ownership. In The Servant Leader by James Autry, Autry focuses on five main characteristics, or “ways of being” that a servant leader should exhibit.
In The Servant Leader by James Autry, Autry focuses on five main characteristics, or “ways of being” that a servant leader should exhibit.
- Be Authentic – Oftentimes it can be easy to change ourselves – what we say or don’t say, how we act – based on those around us and our environment. In contrast, a servant leader should strive to be authentic; to be the same person in every circumstance.
- Be Vulnerable – Being vulnerable builds on being authentic. Part of vulnerability is empathy, the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes, to view the world or situation from another point of view. A servant leader should be honest about their feelings – being open with concerns about an idea, the performance of the team or an employee, their own performance; being able to admit mistakes, let go of control and depend on others.
- Be Accepting – Accept team members’ ideas as viable options before discounting them. Give them thought and consideration, without judgment. Just as you want to be accepted, as a servant leader it’s important to accept those you are guiding and everything they have to offer.
- Be Present – As a leader, it’s hard to be available at all times, to be in the moment instead of focusing on how to improve from the past and plan for the future. Servant leaders should strive to be available to listen to problems and challenges of team members and colleagues. By being in the present, a servant leader lessens the effect their own problems and challenges might have on the team.
- Be Useful – The main component of Servant Leadership is service. Equip your team with the resources they need to do their jobs, and view yourself as their primary resource, serving them for the good of the outcome. from a leader who solely exerts power, to a leader who understands how to respect, value and motivate their employees in a way that allows employees to reach their full potential and perform their best.
Servant leadership is a change from many traditional leadership styles. Transitioning to a new way of doing things takes time and patience. Though employees can benefit from this more open style of leadership, change isn’t easy for yourself or your team. When you start to tell someone what to do – pause and instead ask the employee, “What do you think we should do now?” This question reiterates the new authentic, vulnerable, accepting, present and useful culture you’re working to create.