Defining Leadership

Servant Leadership: Creating Space for Others to Learn

Lynn Rousseau asked:


 ** What is Servant Leadership? ** 

Servant Leadership emphasizes collaboration, empathy, and the ethical use of power.  At heart, the individual is a servant first, making the conscious decision to lead in order to better serve others, not to increase their own power.  The objective is to enhance the growth of individuals in the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement. 

Robert Greenleaf is recognized as the father of servant leadership.  Greenleaf described servant leadership in this manner:  

“It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.  Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead…The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.  The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons, do they grow while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”  

** How is this Relevant? **  

You can see from this that it’s a ‘frame of mind’ that influences the actions you might take.  I love the example of a conversation I recently had with a client.  We were looking at all the things he’s doing to successfully make the shift into a larger role that he has taken on in the company.  Part of it includes his establishing and defining a new function in the company and hiring more people.  He said to me, “Lynn, I consciously build in more time for my employees to complete tasks because many of them are new.  I want to give them space to learn and make mistakes.  So, sometimes projects take longer, but I know it’ll all work out on the back end and start to gain more momentum in time.”  

I was so impressed that he had consciously made this decision and it certainly is the best thing to do in order to allow people to grow and it will also allow my client to function at a higher level as his people develop in their own abilities.  

He realizes the importance of creating a learning environment so that his employees can develop into their role and take on more responsibility.  This also contributes to higher employee engagement.  

** Where Can You Apply This? ** 

Whether you have direct responsibility for supervising other people or not, you definitely influence others in your organization.  We can all apply the concepts of servant leadership.  Where can you create more space for others to work a process?  Where do you want to adopt this concept of serving others?  It doesn’t have to be a big thing (to use a highly technical word).  Even the most subtle gestures or conversations can have profound impacts on others.  



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