The Servant Leader Model
The servant leader model concept originated back in 1970 by Robert Greenleaf. In actuality, some people have been following a servant leader model long before that, even Jesus himself.
The phrase “Servant Leadership” started with his essay called The Servant as Leader. In that essay he said:
1. “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.“
2. “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, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”
It is a successful business model that we could certainly use more of. The servant leader models the following characteristics…
Leads, not so much manages. Leaders rely on people and build them up.
Ensures that his/her team member’s and customer’s needs are being met.
Attitude is positive. Nothing kills morale or personal growth than a bad one.
Desire to serve before a desire for power or great wealth.
Excellent people skills involves someone who not only cares, but listens.
Respect for others.
The servant leader model sounds a lot like just having common respect for a fellow human being, doesn’t it? How many times though have you commented on someone who showed excellent customer service, making you feel valued and worthy of being served? It happens so rarely that it stands out. Maybe the grocery check out line or maybe in an office? I bet you had to think a while on the last time you noticed customer service that stood out (in a good way). These people already fit at least the E through R characteristics of being a good servant leader.
Demonstrating a servant leader model takes the customer service analogy another level up. Part of fitting into the servant leader model is listening to customers and analyzing how their needs can be met. It also holds true with your team members. It involves listening, assessing strengths and weaknesses and using your position of leadership to ensure they are productive and successful. It also involves building them up and encouraging them. It is the ability to see leadership qualities in them and helping them develop those so they can build up others as well. This type of attitude builds a positive teamwork atmosphere and fosters excellent performance of your whole organization. This benefits the customer, the team and society, which is Mr. Greenleaf’s basic point of the servant leader model.