If you follow my blog you know that I believe that we are all purposed for something.  If  purposed for leadership this requires you to serve others. Servant Leadership is more than a great philosophy for communities and society.  It’s great for delivering results. Yet we still have a long way to go for universal acceptance.

Taking a Servant Leadership approach

I was speaking with one of my Government clients.   A representative from one of their key International Development Partners  recently visited the country.  It was anticipated that there would be some tough conversations as this was a senior leader.  What happened was unexpected.  The leader had not taken time to familiarise themselves with the context, nor the facts.  O.K. That can happen.  Did they try and resolve this by listening?  Seeking to get an understanding of what was happening on the ground? NO!

This leader, focused on his agenda.  As Stephen Covey said in the 7 Habits- Seek first to understand and then to be understood.

Had this leader operated from a servant leaders perspective things would have gone much differently.

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Firstly, the Greenleaf centre states that:

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

As an International Development Partner (DP), you could not ask for a better description of the role of a DP , i.e. focus on the ‘well-being of the people and communities to which they belong or serve’.

When we as leaders focus on our own agenda it’s typically because we have to deliver results. Servant Leadership actually helps deliver meaningful results.

Servant leadership Practices (SLP)

SLP includes:

Caring for others – being truly concerned for the overall well-being of others, providing support, encouragement and accountability.

Helping others succeed – putting the success of others before your own success.  Drawing out and developing their greatness, and  being excited for their wins;

Forgiveness – being able to put aside perceived wrongs and differences and still help the person, letting go of anger quickly and not allowing resentment to build;

Humility – putting ego aside, not needing to be right and not needing to be center of attention, or the one who gets the accolades, while giving praise to another where praise is due;

Trustworthiness – being a person of integrity by meaning what you say and saying it honestly, doing to others what you would have them do to you, and operating from right motives (using things not people).

Gallop identified 12 dimensions of great work groups.  Those that consistently perform; they included:

  • My Supervisor Cares About Me
  • Someone Encourages My Development
  • Recognition or Praise
  • My Opinions Seem to Count
  • I Have a Best Friend at Work (relationships of trust)

These practices are essential to delivering results.

These 12 dimensions align well with the Servant Leadership practices described above.  So Servant Leadership practices contribute to high performance work groups.   Despite this we are still a long way from this philosophy being seen as a universal leadership philosophy.  “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”