Servant Leadership: A transformative way to lead

servant leadership approachFor just one moment, envision a leader you’d want to follow. What words would you use to describe this person? Do the words boss, captain, foreman or helmsman come to mind? How about headman, honcho, kingpin or taskmaster? We found it almost amusing that Merriam Webster defines a leader as “the person who tells people and especially workers what to do,” and lists these words—as well as the word “man” — as synonyms of a leader.

Harmony Crew believes a servant leadership approach is much more effective and rewarding – which the statistics and case studies validate. Servant leadership is a framework based on the belief that leaders should be focused primarily on the growth and well being of people and the communities to which they belong. It is both a leadership philosophy and a set of behaviors that de-emphasize command and control methods and internal competition and instead prioritize accountability, the needs of others and employee engagement.

Servant-leaders have elevated motivations and are described as humble, inspiring, empathetic, intelligent, trusting, appreciative, and communicative. They are deep listeners and holistic thinkers and encourage personal development, shared power and helping others perform as highly as possible. They are committed to leading a values-based organization and truly living those values themselves. They enable adult/adult cultures in which people bring their whole selves to work, rather than parent/child cultures where there is underlying fear of “the bosses.”

The practice of leading through service has grown substantially since Robert K. Greenleaf, widely considered the father of the modern day servant leadership movement, first published his essay The Servant as Leader and popularized the servant leadership framework in 1970. And in spite of outdated connotations, his rich body of work makes it clear that the word servant does not indicate weakness. Rather, developing the worldview and ability to step outside of one’s own desire for power and authority is a true sign of strength.

Servant leadership has been adopted by leadership experts such as Peter Drucker, Joseph Jaworski, Steven Covey, Peter Senge, and Parker Palmer. Some of the most successful companies embrace it, including Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Marriott International, TD Industries, and The Container Store, just to name a few. And for good reason. It enables the highest levels of employee engagement and organizational performance. In fact, companies that follow the servant approach average 15% to 40% higher profit margins than their competitors.

Harmony Crew not only follows the principles of servant leadership within our own team, but we are certified by the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership to help organizations adopt this approach. We’re excited to share more information on the philosophy and practice. Subscribe to our blog for upcoming articles about the behaviors of servant-leaders, case studies and more. And, give us a call if you’re interesting in learning more about our servant-based training and development programs and coaching.

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