Servant leadership may be perceived as a “fad management technique” but I actually find it to be one of those better business basics I keep talking about. Here’s why…
If you’re with me on the idea that you improve results by improving performance and that performance is personal before it is organizational, then the question is, “What have you done to help your people improve their performance?” As a manager, your responsibilities include guiding your direct reports, setting expectations, monitoring performance, and providing feedback on their work. But what have you done to clear away barriers that prevent them from performing up to their full potential?
Your primary responsibility is to deliver results and protect assets through the wise use of resources within your area of responsibility. How do you do that? You set your people up to succeed. If you aren’t addressing their needs, and clearing away those performance barriers, you are limiting their ability to perform up to their potential, and you are failing to deliver the results that your function has the potential to deliver. You are also failing to develop productive relationships with your people. After all, your people are your most valuable resource!
As a manager you may need to employ authoritarian, participative or hands off leadership approaches depending on the situation within your area of responsibility. You may even need to be the benevolent dictator. Regardless of the leadership approach you use, integrating elements of servant leadership will help your people achieve their full potential, and help you deliver the results expected of your team.
So communicate with your people, develop productive relationships with them, learn what is preventing them from delivering the best results possible, and clear away those barriers or point them in the direction of other sources of help that you may not be able to offer yourself. Be a servant leader and you’ll see improved results through improved personal performance.
If you want to learn more about servant leadership, read James Hunter’s The Servant, or The Servant Leader by Blanchard and Hodges. Both are a good read, the latter with more religious overtones but still very applicable in the work environment. And don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like some help.