Servant Leadership: The Seventh Power Skill for Leaders in a New Era
To successfully lead companies and inspire people, leaders need to develop new capabilities. A new type of leader is needed to inspire and lead their people – one who engages their heart and soul as well as their capabilities, blending their analytical and whole human skills.
There are seven Power Skills that help leaders do just this:
- Self-Awareness & Capacity for Growth
- Empathy & Compassion
- Ego-Awareness & Humility
- Transparency & Truth
- Resilience & Emotional Intelligence
- Servant Leadership
Let’s take a closer look at Servant Leadership
While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. Greenleaf describes attributes of servant leaders as sharing power with their people, putting the needs of the employees first, helping people develop and perform, and existing to serve their people. When leaders shift their mindset and serve first, they benefit by experiencing not only their own personal growth but create the environment for personal growth of the individuals they work with. At scale, servant leadership can fuel systemic change, promote positive and healthy workplace culture, and generate higher levels of engagement, morale, and contribution.
Servant leadership is both a mindset and a skill. It stems from a fundamental belief in the potential of others as well as oneself. Too often, feeling alone, unsure, or even having a case of imposter syndrome can stand in the way of true servant leadership. The focus is too much on what you feel you lack in your life as a leader, rather than on the growth opportunities of those you lead. Additionally, if working with others is seen as competition played out through a zero-sum game mentality, servant leadership cannot exist. As you can see, servant leadership requires us to look up, look out, notice, take stock, and choose to move in the direction of the betterment of others and of the whole.
For leaders in the new era, particularly when working with employees who increasingly seek meaning, purpose, and mentorship through work, having the capability to truly bring out the best in others is a must-have skill. Let’s take a look at how to shift in this direction as a New Era Leader:
Some questions to get you started on Servant Leadership:
- Do you believe in yourself? If so, how do you use this as a touchstone as a leader? If not, why not, and how are you supporting yourself to hold a deeper belief and acceptance of your own strengths?
- Do you see the benefit of empowering individuals on your teams and trusting them to make good choices? How do you communicate your belief in them to them?
- What needs to happen next to let the people I work with know that they have permission to grow and learn here with me?
- What are my core values and how do they show up in my leadership approach?
- Who do I know that models servant leadership and what can I learn from their example?
Select Micro-Practices for Practicing Servant Leadership:
- Develop others: When there is the opportunity, teach, and mentor. Focus on preparing your employees to become leaders by helping them work through issues with you, develop their thinking and decision making habits, and feel ownership and responsibility overwork.
- Delegate: Create a list of projects and tasks that you can delegate. Assign them to people you know will stretch to accomplish these items and support them through it. Be transparent about your process and let them know you are there to help their personal development and growth.
- Make intentional time: Perhaps it’s office hours on Zoom or short 15-minute check-ins with your direct reports, but create time to make yourself available and accessible to others where you allow an open-ended nature to the connection. Perhaps it’s about work; perhaps it’s deepening your relationship with one another as human beings. What this practice fosters is openness and relatability. The message says you care about whatever is going on in their lives.
- Lead with “How can I help?” “Is there anything I can do to support you?” Just by asking this question, you are inviting trust and honesty in ways that create openings within your workplace.