Book Summary: Servant Leadership In Action

In his preface, Ken Blanchard says this:

"...when I hear people say, "It's lonely at the top." To me, if it's lonely at the top, it means nobody is following you. If that's true, you'd better get off the top and go where the people are—and then, in my terms, bring them to the top with you."

He further said that as a leader, you relinquish your right to think about yourself first. The book's theme, servant leadership, is a behavioral approach that emphasizes putting others first.

What Is Servant Leadership?

A leader helping his team members to climb up the mountain to reach the top.

A leader is often thought to be someone who decides what to do, when to do it, where to do it, and how. They are someone who plays a proactive or strategic role. Servant leaders maintain this part of leadership while also taking on implementation, or operational, functions.

For servant leadership, where employees turn to their organizational leaders for vision, the typical hierarchical pyramid with a single leader at the top stays successful. The implementation phase of the leadership process, on the other hand, is when most companies and leaders run into difficulties.

The classic hierarchical structure is sustained with self-serving officials at the forefront. Who do individuals assume they work for when this happens? The persons in charge of them.

When you believe you work for someone higher up for implementation, you think that person—your boss—is in control, and your role is to be responsive to that supervisor.

Consequently, the organization's energy is being directed upwards, away from consumers and the frontline employees who are closest to the action.

Servant leaders remedy this problem by flipping the typical hierarchical pyramid on its head when it comes to implementation. As a result, as a leader, you must work for your followers. Even though it appears to be a little alteration, it has a significant effect.

Who is accountable and who is responsive is the distinction. When you flip the organizational pyramid upside down, your employees become responsible to the inverted pyramid's top tier, the client, instead of being responsive to you.

Ten Characteristics of Servant Leaders

A servant leader listening to the feedback of his team.

Within the writings, you'll find the ten qualities of Servant Leaders.

  1. Listening. The servant-leader attempts to discern a group's intent and assists in its clarification by listening attentively to what is said and not expressed. Listening, along with moments of contemplation - hearing one's own inner voice - is critical to the servant leader's development and well-being.
  2. Empathy. People ought to be respected and acknowledged for their own personalities. Servant leaders presume the best intentions of their employees, coworkers, and colleagues. They do not dismiss them as individuals, even if they are compelled to reject certain behaviors or performances.
  3. Healing. One of the most powerful aspects of servant leadership is repairing oneself and one's relationships with others. Although this is a natural aspect of being human, servant leaders know that they can help others become full.
  4. Awareness. The servant-leader is strengthened by general awareness, particularly self-awareness. Awareness aids in the comprehension of ethical, power, and value dilemmas. It allows you to see most situations from a more comprehensive, integrated perspective.
  5. Persuasion. Rather than enforcing conformity, the servant leader tries to persuade people. The servant-leader is good at getting others to agree in groups. This emphasis on persuasion rather than compulsion is a good thing.
  6. Conceptualization. The capacity to evaluate an issue or an organization from a conceptual standpoint necessitates thinking beyond everyday facts. To be a servant leader, a leader must broaden their thinking to include broader-based abstract thinking. Servant leaders must strike a careful balance between conceptual thought and day-to-day practical considerations.
  7. Foresight. Foresight is a trait that allows a servant leader to grasp past lessons, current realities, and the anticipated outcome of future action, all while being firmly planted in the intuitive mind.
  8. Stewardship. Servant leadership presupposes a dedication to serving others' needs: a commitment to people's development. The servant-leader understands how important it is to do all in their power to help employees and colleagues improve personally and professionally.
  9. Building community. The servant-leader tries to figure out how to create a sense of community among individuals who work in their organization. Servant leadership says that individuals who work together may form a real community.
  10. Trust. Serving others and establishing trust are intrinsically related. Servant leaders prioritize service and trust. With positional power, leadership is a byproduct - an afterthought.

Another connection between trust and servant leadership is that they are both created on purpose. Your intention—your motivation, your plan—could be nebulous and unnoticed. But don't be fooled by thinking it's concealed. In everything you say and do, others can perceive your intention.

The Trust Litmus Test

A servant leader motivating his employee by guiding and giving ideas to promote her creativity.

So, do you consider yourself a servant leader? How closely do you resemble the profile?

Consider the individuals you supervise. What amount and quality of trust do you have? You have a lot of trust if you're a genuine servant leader. You'll know whether you're leading as a servant because you'll be surrounded by high-trust connections and a high-trust team.

Putting your faith in people doesn't have to be a game of gullibility. Extending trust to others is a risk.

By limiting risk, many leaders have progressed their careers. "I want it done correctly, so I do it myself," they say. But this mindset is taxing, unsustainable, and incapable of providing an organization's infinite creativity, energy, and involvement.

People desire to be able to rely on others. It is the most powerful source of human drive. The servant-leader recognizes this and strives for something more, instilling trust in the business and society as a whole.

The litmus test is trust. Ask yourself (or your employees) the following questions and get straight answers:

  1. How much confidence do I have in my connections, my team, and my stakeholders?
  2. What am I really trying to achieve? Is it true that I'm serving others, or am I serving myself?
  3. What are some options for expressing my true intentions to others?
  4. What are some ways I might consciously display my desire to serve via my actions?

This self-diagnosis tool informs you about your current position on the Servant Leadership path.

Servant Leaders Create a Great Place to Work for All

A team working collaboratively and creating a great place for all to work.

The finest organizations understand the need to cultivate a unique culture for everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the company.

Employees at these organizations regularly trust their leaders, take pride in their job, and like working with their coworkers—the three essential aspects of a great workplace.

They develop servant leaders who foster environments where everyone is trusted, empowered, supported, and treated equally.

Leaders in these firms abandon the authoritarian, command-and-control management styles that dominated corporate cultures in the twentieth century.

Lower-level workers who are given servant leadership have more love for their jobs, cooperate more, and participate in innovative behaviors that help them succeed.

With dispersed power, these organizations' leaders build trusted connections. They understand that to attain their greatest potential, people require tremendous autonomy over their employment. Micromanagement isn't an option.

In addition to giving employees autonomy in their daily responsibilities, servant leaders at these organizations actively seek out their employees' advice and views on various topics, from team projects to corporate strategy.

Furthermore, servant leaders, as demonstrated in these firms, treat everyone equally. They understand that the employment experience revolves around justice. It is essential to build reliable connections, allow employees to make decisions, and ensure that people feel really cared for.

Servant Leaders Celebrate Others

A servant leadership celebrating his members' success as they clap their hands.

People flourish when their contributions to the success of a company are acknowledged. A leader's capacity to meaningfully recognize a team's continuing engagement in the execution of an organizational goal directly impacts the team's continued attention.

Servant leaders recognize the importance of celebration in their organization's health. They value celebration in their leadership and continually seek innovative methods to identify their team's accomplishments.

Servant leaders recognize that once a team wins, they must enjoy the victory before expecting the team to move on to the next goal.

Five advantages of celebration may be discovered in the essays.

  1. Celebrating your team shows that you value them. Celebrating your team shows that you value them and that you recognize their contribution to the triumph. Simply said, your employees must believe that their boss values and affirms them.
  2. Celebration reinforces core organizational values. What you celebrate as a leader sends a clear message to your team about the attributes you value in a successful team player. Servant leaders are always conscious of the fact that they must first carry out these key beliefs. If your actions do not mirror your proclaimed views, you cannot expect your employees to share them.
  3. Team morale is boosted by celebration. When team members can celebrate triumphs together, their morale is boosted. The celebration is a powerful incentive because everyone appreciates the thrill of victory and wants to experience it as frequently as possible.

A servant leader also makes an effort to recognize the efforts of the team's unsung heroes regularly. To win, it needs a whole team—each individual working within their own skills and giving their all at every level.

As a result, you must recognize everyone's role and engagement, not just those on the front lines.

  1. Celebration increases productivity and retention. People are more productive when they are in a good environment. People are more motivated to work toward the organization's goals when there is a sense of celebration. Simply put, what is celebrated is accomplished! The more you praise your employees, the more productive they will become.
  2. A great recruiting tool is a celebration. Everyone enjoys having a good time. When an organization's celebrations are outwardly evident and encourage people who help it succeed, it becomes a desirable workplace.

Servant Leadership and the Parable of the Good Samaritan

A female helping out a poor child, as she approaches the charity booth for food.

How you view people has an impact on how you serve them. And most of us err on the side of caution. We consider individuals as either a nuisance to be avoided or a person to be cherished.

The Good Samaritan tale exemplifies this. In this narrative, our traveler met three distinct sorts of individuals.

The robbers come first. They abused him by beating him, robbing him, and utterly exploiting him. While most of us would never consider doing something like this, we are occasionally tempted to view others as commodities, resources, or impediments rather than flesh-and-blood humans.

The priests were the second group our victim encountered. The individual was not robbed, beaten, or exploited by these religious leaders. They just kept their distance from him. They were too preoccupied with what they considered to be more essential spiritual labor to stop and assist someone in need.

We all think the best approach to tackle an issue is to ignore it totally from time to time. Perhaps we believe it will be done by someone else. Maybe we think it is being done by someone else.

The Good Samaritan, the final person the victim encountered, was the only one who viewed him through the eyes of a servant leader. He didn't see an issue to solve or a victim to exploit. He recognized someone deserving of respect. That is why he volunteered to serve.

How you serve is determined by what you perceive when you look at someone. We claim we want to respect people, but then we see, feel, and go on.

Servant leaders recognize that someone with a chip on their shoulder may have wounds on their back, so they take a polite approach rather than passing judgment.

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