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Is Servant Leadership Your Ideal Style?

I know it’s important to understand what leadership style works for you. We’re all unique in our capabilities and values, meaning certain leadership styles will be better fits than others. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend reading this blog about different leadership styles for more context around this. 


For this blog, we’re going to see if the servant leadership style aligns with your goals and personal values as a leader. No one would disagree when I say leadership plays a crucial role in shaping team dynamics and, leadership is not a one-size-fits-all approach. I want to offer up some thought-provoking concepts to give you enough insight to make an informed decision about adopting the servant leadership philosophy.


Servant Leadership Style:

I know it’s a common theme in my blogs, but this is the servant leadership category so I’m not apologizing for beating a dead horse. At a basic level, servant leadership is a philosophy that prioritizes the needs, growth, and well-being of others. It’s our job as a servant leader to shift our focus to serving and empowering our team members to self-govern. If you want more depth of this concept, I have a blog about my favorite core principles and their benefits.


Assessing the Fit:

With that basic background let’s determine if servant leadership is the right fit for you. This is by no means the end all be all list. But! I think this is a great jumping off point for anyone to decide if they feel servant leadership is the best fit for them! Let’s talk about it.



Self-Reflective:

 One of my favorite core principles of servant leadership, and one that is necessary for any great servant leader. This essentially means you make it a priority to assess your own values, beliefs, and interpersonal relationships as means to progressively grow and evolve your character. If you are constantly reflecting on old conversations wondering how you could have handled them better, or if you have no problem changing your opinions once you learn more information than self-reflection is a skill you already have!



Team Conscious: 

This is the opposite of self-reflection. A leader who continuously evaluates the dynamics, culture, and needs of their team in order to meet them is team conscious. If you are one to consider how your team would respond to your leadership approach, or if you worry about being supportive or trustworthy as a leader you are a team conscious leader.



Open Communication: 

I want to encourage you to think about this one in terms of tough conversations. Open communication is simple when there is no contention and the dialogue is easy. Are you holding open conversations with team members to understand their expectations, preferences, and needs both positive and negative? Do you seek their input on the different organizational goals and objectives, or gauge their receptiveness to change? A servant leader would hold open, honest dialogue because they’ve established a safe and trusted relationship with their team. And, you would value the dialogue because it allows you to be self-reflective from their feedback and keeps you team conscious!



Think About It:

Here are some questions to noodle over. My goal here is to get you thinking about your current leadership style and how you want to lead. Those are not always the same thing! So think about these questions, make notes of your answers, digest what you’re feeling:


  • Are you genuinely interested in the well-being and growth of your team members?

  • Do you value open communication and actively listen to your team's perspectives and ideas?

  • Are you willing to put the needs of your team ahead of your own interests?

  • Do you prioritize collaboration and a sense of community within your team?

  • Are you comfortable sharing power and decision-making authority with your team?


If you want to answer yes to most or all of these questions, you’re either already a servant leader or are a natural fit to become one! 

If you answered no to most or all of these questions, I’d like to challenge you to take the principles of servant leadership for a test run. I put together some steps you could take too, just to make your life a little easier.


  • Educate Yourself: It doesn’t hurt to deepen your understanding of servant leadership. There are dozens of books, workshops, and renown servant leaders that offer a breadth of knowledge on the benefits and implementation strategies of servant leadership.

  • Lead by Example: Find a starting point to begin implementing principles of servant leadership in your daily interactions. I’d recommend starting with tactical empathy and active listening and see where that takes you!

  • Create a Supportive Environment: The natural progression from tactical empathy and active listening is achieving open communication, collaboration, and personal development within your team. You can achieve this by creating a culture where team members feel safe to voice their opinions and ideas.

  • Seek Feedback: The icing on the cake that brings this full circle is the feedback loop. By regularly seeking feedback from your team you can use their insights to continuously improve and refine your approach.


These steps will get you in the right direction and I believe once you start you’re going to love the results. Here are just a few benefits to consider before you complete nay-say it:


  • Enhanced Trust and Engagement: Trust and psychological safety are the two main outcomes of servant leadership. When these two are achieved we see increased productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction.

  • Improved Communication and Collaboration: Servant leaders cultivate a culture of collaboration. Team members will freely express ideas, share feedback, and work together toward common goals.

  • Personal Growth and Development: Because servant leaders prioritize the growth and development of their team members, they empower individuals to reach their full potential, contributing to their long-term success and career satisfaction.

  • Higher Employee Retention: When team members feel supported, valued, and have opportunities for growth, they are more likely to stay with the organization. 

  • Positive Organizational Culture: By promoting values such as empathy, humility, and stewardship, servant leaders inspire others to embody these qualities. This leads to a culture of collaboration, respect, and shared purpose.


Takeaways:

I hope this blog has helped you decide if servant leadership is the right fit for you. If you do take the challenge to become a servant leader I’m so excited for you! While obstacles and pushback may arise during the transition, addressing adversity with transparency, education, and empathy can pave the way for a positive transformation that enhances team dynamics, productivity, and overall success. And most importantly, I believe in you!


Thank you for making it this far, and as a token of my appreciation I want to invite you to do two things:

  • Check out the story of “Greatness” by David Marquet. It’s a phenomenal story of over 130 men on a submarine and how a new commander who knew nothing about the sub worked to empower them to become the highest inspection grade ever seen in under two years!

  • Go to our forum and post about your journey to becoming a servant leader so that our readers and leaders can encourage, learn, and grow with you!

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