Exploring the Servant Leader

In a recent blog entry, I explored a list of eight authentic leadership styles in an attempt to pin down my specific style of leadership, and to discover why I so often find myself in the unexpected—and more times than not, unwanted—role of a leader.

Several of the styles seemed to fit the bill.

I have to admit that I pondered long and hard on the Charismatic leader, hoping I fit snugly into that personality type. The Charismatic leader is one who acts as a sort of cheerleader for the team. Team members energetically follow directions based on the sheer enthusiasm of this type of leader.

The problem with this type of leadership style is that the absence of such a leader, according to vectorstudy.com, could be disastrous for the team, as the whole credit for success belongs to the leader, much like a star quarterback on a winning football team.

Now, as much as I would like to think that my cheery good nature and my enthusiasm for my job helps to motivate my team, I am under no illusions about the fact that if I should leave the company, all would continue as it is now. I happen to work with what we like to call a well-oiled team of professionals who all know their job very well.

So, the question still remains. What am I and why do they look to me?

Continuing down the list, I felt a more honest connection to the People-Oriented style of management. This type of manager focuses on team building, raising morale and incorporating the creativity of the team into her decisions.

This style seems to come naturally to me and is certainly a good fit. However, as I am not afraid to raise a few feathers for the good of the company, I continued down the list.

Here is where I found myself. And, here is where I discovered the heart of my unsought after promotion problems.

There is a type of leader who is a leader by virtue of filling the role.

A leader who has the best interest of the company, and the interests of the team, at heart.

This type of leader leads by following.

This leader is a servant of those she leads.

Robert W Greenleaf

Robert W. Greenleaf

The idea of the Servant Leader was coined and developed by Robert K. Greenleaf, according to Wikipedia.

“The highest priority of a servant leader is to encourage, support and enable subordinates to unfold their full potential and abilities. This leads to an obligation to delegate responsibility and engage in participative decision-making.”

The page continues to describe that this type of leadership demands for an internal restructuring in the way a manager thinks about the relationships between herself and her team members. In essence, the managerial focus is shifted to the “promotion of performance and satisfaction of employees.”

A servant leader must hold 10 characteristics in order to effectively succeed with this style of management, according to Greenleaf.

Regional Leadership Forum

Regional Leadership Forum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1) Listening and communication skills
2) Empathy, respect and appreciation for others
3) Healing and encouraging of personal development in herself and others
4) Awareness and self-awareness
5) Persuasion (versus coercion)
6) Conceptualization and the ability to form long-term goals
7) Foresight to visualize likely outcomes
8) Stewardship
9) Commitment to the growth of others
10) Developing a community

That list is a mouthful, to be sure. And the role of a servant leader is not one to be stepped in lightly, but from reading several articles from more than a few different websites, this style of leadership promotes productivity, employee satisfaction and personal growth.

Encouraging talent and creativity is a must in my type of work, which is perhaps why I did not so much like my leadership role when I was working for a retail store. There is not much room for personal growth or creativity in that type of position.

The type of leader I am, not to say that I can never change or develop my particular style, is suited to a certain type of work. A type of work that I am fortunate enough, at this time of my life, to be doing.

What type of leader are you and do you think it is the best style of management for the type of work you do? Please join me in a discussion below.

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One thought on “Exploring the Servant Leader

  1. Pingback: Why Empathy Makes a Leader « Creating Leaders

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