What is servant leadership?
To help aspiring leaders understand what it means to be a servant leader, we asked CEOs and seasoned business experts to look inward and tell us how they see their leadership. From focusing on solutions to leading as a mentor, there are several definitions that can help you decide the best way to be a servant leader and continue the growth of your business for years to come.
Here are eight definitions from business leaders of what it means to be a servant leader:
- Focus on Solutions
- Stay Team-Oriented
- Put Community First
- Practice Empathy
- Listen to Team Needs
- Motivate and Support
- Lead as a Mentor
- Prioritize “Them”
Focus on Solutions
A servant leader is someone whose aim is to serve the employees of a company. This definition gives us an idea that the servant leader is more about solving the problems faced by the employees rather than leading them to a shared goal. My definition of a servant leader is a combination of both a traditional leader and the servant leader. A servant leader solving the issues faced by the employees is also a leader, leading his team to a shared goal. I call myself a servant leader because I focus on solving the problems faced by my employees while leading them by example. I avoid being the boss who is all about giving orders and asking for some pre-planned results.
Eden Cheng, WeInvoice
Servant leadership is putting the needs of your team first before yourself. Servant leaders believe team members who are personally and professionally fulfilled yield higher quality work more efficiently and productively. I am a full-time employee in a non-profit organization, and we practice this kind of leadership style. Rather than being authoritative, team leaders share power, put the needs of others first, and help people develop and perform as highly as possible. Servant leaders make decisions with the team’s best interests in mind. As an entrepreneur, I also practice this with my remote workers. Rather than micro-managing individual tasks, I have found that it works much better to give remote workers measurable responsibilities and allow them to accomplish those tasks on time. It is important to give remote employees the resources they need to successfully carry out their work.
Alexander Shute, FaithGiant
Put Community First
Servant leaders prioritize the stakeholders around them before themselves. At the end of the day, servant leadership is about community impact. Businesses have several stakeholders as part of their community. Those stakeholders may include employees, customers, vendors, and the community in which a business operates. A servant leader can recognize the impact their actions and decisions have on all stakeholders and prioritize those stakeholders before their personal interests. In other words, community first.
Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
At its core, leaders work alongside their employees while showing empathy and care. Some examples include providing personalized training, offering actionable career plans, and developing a strong working culture based on the needs of your team. One great way to show servant leadership is by listening to the needs of your workers. In this past year, I saw how difficult this pandemic has been on my workers. In our company, all of our movers are students. Many of them weren’t eligible for the stimulus check and were struggling. That’s why my business partner and I decided to offer a scholarship fund. Workers in need applied, and we were able to give out nearly $10,000 to affected students.
Tom Mumford, Undergrads
Listen to Team Needs
Being a servant leader is about being available to your team, listening, and acting on issues that matter. Employees want to be valued and heard. Leaders who focus on numbers and quotas rather than being empathetic with their employees have a higher turnover rate. Servant leaders need to take the hard conversations to upper management and fight for their employees.
Shelbey Grimes, Trinity Air Medical
Motivate and Support
Servant leaders are leaders who focus on uplifting and supporting their employees. I believe all leaders should be servant leaders because they’re able to guide their employees to be internally motivated by their business’s mission, rather than attempting to externally motivate them through displays of power. I see myself as a servant leader because I put my people first. Leadership isn’t about ego for me. It’s about creating a team that cares about your business.
Vincent Bradley, Proper Wild
Lead as a Mentor
I definitely see myself as a servant leader, as I’m always ready to share my experience and mentor members of my team. We all come from different backgrounds, but I know what it’s like to work from the ground up, and I have made my fair share of mistakes. I’d love to help others avoid them and reap the rewards that can only come from selfless mentorship.
Timmy Yanchun, LTHR Shaving
Servant leadership is all about realizing it is not about you; it is not about me. Who is about, then? Them — your team, your employees, your interns, your nervous new hires, your confident rockstars. As Simon Sinek once said, “Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those IN your charge.” Leadership is all about admitting when you are wrong, taking all the blame when it goes wrong, giving all the credit to your team when it goes right, and having monthly scheduled check-ins about their growth and development. Leadership is asking, “How can I help?” and “What resources do you need?” Our number one job as leaders needs to be about developing our team, listening to them, and giving them the tools to succeed.
Trevor Rappleye, CorporateFilming.com