Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Becoming a servant leader, part of New Manager Fundamentals.
Until recent years, the common understanding of leadership might be described as mechanical and structured, maybe even cold. It involved things such as providing resources, setting goals, and measuring performance. These are still basic parts of leadership and organizational life. But today, we've evolved our thinking further to include a more progressive and compassionate understanding of how interpersonal relationships affect productivity. No longer are employees thought of as simple human resources to whom orders should be provided. Now, we recognize that employees are our colleagues and collaborators, our partners with whom and through whom progress is achieved.
One of the most popular paradigms within this evolved view of leadership is servant leadership. Servant leadership is squarely focused on the need to build and develop your employees as your first priority. Servant leadership is predicated on the idea that helping others succeed, in and of itself, is a righteous goal. It's the right thing to do. Of course, as a great byproduct, when you work hard to maximize the growth of your employees, your team becomes more successful and thus, you become more successful. To become a successful servant leader, I want you to focus on these five particular behaviors that will guide you as you develop: committing to employee development, developing self awareness, listening effectively, feeling empathy, and promoting healing.
Let's quickly consider each one. The first is a strong commitment to the growth of the people around you. This is the hallmark of servant leadership. You must have a sincere conviction to develop others based on a belief that people have an intrinsic value beyond their contributions as workers. That is why ultimately you seek to support your employees' professional and personal growth. How do you do that? It all starts with self-awareness. A servant leader understands their personal strengths and weaknesses. It's from a base of solid self- awareness that all of the other behaviors I will mention in a moment become possible.
You will begin to build self-awareness when you spend time in honest reflection about your work and your work relationships. It also helps to seek out and utilize a few sources of candid expert feedback, for example, a coach or a mentor. Next is listening. Any successful leader must be a strong communicator which always includes strong listening skills. However, many leaders err problematically on speaking far more than listening. The servant leader knows that he or she will maximize the outcome of any conversation by listening liberally.
This allows you to fully understand others' positions. It also allows you to seriously consider body language, which often indicates things that remain unspoken. Now let's consider empathy. A skill that is very important, though often considered more difficult to build. Empathy is the capacity to recognize emotions in others, which then allows us to feel some amount of compassion, caring, or concern in response. Being able to empathize with someone is partially driven by your personality, but it is also recognized as a skill that can be built through increased self-awareness.
When you make empathizing with others a genuine focus, it won't be long before you start to understand them better. Another vital component of servant leadership is the ability to facilitate healing. Even great teams experience plenty of conflict. The difference is that great teams have the ability to heal wounds by laughing at themselves and making apologies when needed. When you model selfless behaviors, make your communication positive, and admit when you're wrong, you can turn conflict into a positive event that makes the team better.
In the end, servant leadership is practical, through your focus on developing others, ultimately, you're building a stronger team.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Clarifying performance expectations
- Feeding your learning curve
- Building rapport with your team
- Explaining your decision-making style
- Increasing your authenticity
- Communicating proactively
- Knowing when to have a meeting and who should attend
- Coping successfully with your transition<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.