Many people may still believe that a leader’s role is to tell or instruct. This might have been the case many years ago, but it has long since become evident that this is not a sustainable manner to lead. Managers tell and instruct. Leaders guide and inspire.
The concept of servant leadership is in fact almost 50 years old (coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970), and has even morphed into the concept of custodianship which is essentially the same thing.
Even though this is an “old” concept, the principles will hold true for the foreseeable future – the more leaders inspire and equip those around them to be what the company needs them to be, the more likely they are to have engaged team members. And research proves that happy employees generally mean happy customers!
Showing up as a servant leader who empowers and inspires requires the following:
- Being approachable and listening: Your team members need to feel that they can speak to you about anything that is on their mind – whether an opportunity or a challenge. And they need to know that you will listen. Knowing that you have their back will encourage them to speak up – which can save you time and even money in the long run. Listening to hear rather than respond, being open to feedback and having an open door policy will support this.
- Displaying humility: It is important to give credit where it is due. While reward and recognition may be considered as “nice to have” by some, it goes a long way to building a purposeful culture and inspiring team members. Consider the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Situational leadership: By recognising what each team member brings to the proverbial table and using their strengths to capitalise on opportunities, team members will feel valued and the organisation is able to celebrate diversity.
- Empowering: If someone has the ability to do what is required, but not the means, failure is inevitable. Providing the required tools and resources, and empowering team members regarding how to use them not only means that there is an investment in the business but also in the talent pipeline. This also leads to team members feeling valued and bringing their discretionary effort – something that all leaders yearn for.
- Being a custodian of the culture: Setting the example of what the organisation stands for is essential for effective leadership. This means embodying the values in a way that personifies a desired culture while purposefully fulfilling the brand promise to clients. You cannot expect others to do what you don’t do.
- Allowing for multi-level communication: It is important for leaders to engage with all levels of team members with the same message. Everyone needs to be on the same page to understand what is required of them.
If your team members are inspired to live the company’s values and deliver the brand promise to clients, they will be passionate about serving clients in a purposeful manner.
And if you inspire team members to make the connection between their personal purpose and the organisation’s purpose, they are more likely to stay with the business for longer.
And who wouldn’t want an inspired, passionate next level of leadership waiting in the ranks?