At New Quest Coaching & Consulting we are dedicated to training, coaching and developing successful leaders and employees. Our firm was originally founded in Kamloops and today we have a team of consultants and coaches based in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Calgary. For this specific article, we thought it would be of interest to look at the simple fact that in the world of leadership, the best leaders are those who understand that success comes from caring about employees and putting them first. This leadership style, aptly named “servant leadership,” could be the difference in the long-term success of your organization.
Have you ever had a boss you didn’t like? It’s safe to say most of us have been there at one point or another. Bad bosses micromanage and talk down to their employees, and have to have the final say on everything. Instead of supporting their employees’ personal and professional development, they prioritize their own goals.
The term “servant leadership” was coined in 1970 by Robert K. Greenleaf in his essay, “The Servant as a Leader.” A servant leader is someone who always puts the needs of the team before their own. They leave their ego at the door, they respect other people’s ideas and they encourage their employees to develop their own leadership skills. Companies with servant leaders experience higher engagement, stronger relationships between team members, and an increase in innovative thinking. Not only that: they perform better than organizations without a servant leader.
All too often, new leaders get caught up in having all the power. Since they’re sitting at the top, they think they should have absolute control of every aspect of the business. Servant leaders, on the other hand, aren’t threatened by other people’s knowledge and expertise. They solicit input from the team and value each person’s diverse opinions equally.
They say that trust takes years to build, seconds to break and a lifetime to repair. Unfortunately, many people in a leadership position demand their employees’ trust without doing anything to earn it. Even worse, they often break what little trust exists by acting more in their own self interest instead of looking out for the team. Servant leaders take the time to build a foundation of trust with their teams first and do everything in their power not to destroy it. And if they do break trust, they’re humble enough to admit their mistakes and do what it takes to fix the damage.
Poor leaders are often so caught up in their own growth that they fail to recognize or encourage potential leadership abilities in others. They refuse to delegate because they believe they know better than anyone else. A servant leader not only gives others the opportunity to grow — they invest time and resources to develop their employees into future leaders. They’re not afraid to give up their power to help others discover their strengths.
How often are we told not to bring our personal lives to work? In the modern workplace, where people’s lives and work are often intertwined, this is an outdated and unrealistic expectation. Poor leaders treat their employees as exactly that: employees who are only there to do their jobs. Servant leaders, on the other hand, care about their teams’ lives outside of the office. They take a genuine interest in their personal well being, not just their productivity levels.
No one likes to admit when they’re wrong, but servant leaders have the emotional intelligence to own up to their mistakes with humility and vulnerability. When a leader refuses to acknowledge where he or she went wrong, it creates a toxic work environment where no one feels safe to take risks. It’s a leader’s job to lead by example and show the team that it’s okay to mess up. After all, when people feel as supported in their failures as their successes, they’re more willing to think outside the box and that’s when true innovation thrives.
An organization is only as strong as its people — from the person in the leadership seat to each employee on the team — and people are more likely to follow a leader who truly cares about their growth, in and out of the office. When you take care of your people, they’ll in turn take care of your customers. So encourage your people, support their ideas and help them grow. That’s how you build a healthy foundation for success.
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