There are many effective styles of management, but managers who embrace key servant leadership principles will find the most success.
Many managers, on getting promoted or hired into their leadership position, believe it’s their time to shine. They’ve risen through the ranks, the spotlight is on them and they may get to have their voice carry more weight than has been the case before. It’s an exciting step in their career progression, one that they may have striven toward for years.
While it’s true that a new leadership position typically means higher responsibility and greater decision-making power, it doesn’t set a leader up for success to think the light should shine on them alone. The better leadership philosophy is not to be the person standing in the spotlight; rather, choose to be a servant leader, the one holding the spotlight and shining it on your team.
Think to your own career — who have been the bosses you appreciated the most or who were the best at motivating your team to perform at its highest possible level? I imagine it was the ones who viewed themselves as holding a position of trust rather than a position of authority. That’s not to say that they abdicated the responsibility of their role; instead, they recognized that their success was ultimately tied to the success of their team and the best way for them to do well was to empower their direct reports.
Becoming a Servant Leader
A manager who embraces servant leadership principles is a person who seeks to elevate those in their charge, producing results by supporting the development of the people they lead. If you want to be a great leader, commit to serving your employees: identify their strengths and weaknesses, develop their skills and nurture their career growth.
If your team is consistently learning and growing, it will get noticed — by your peers and by your superiors, as well as your own team. Fostering a culture on your team of continuous improvement will drive results beyond just the company’s balance sheet. It will also pay off in employee engagement and job satisfaction, retention, and even hiring.
You might fear that investing in the growth of your employees is just asking for them to leave for a more challenging job. But while this is a realistic fear, a leader’s commitment to the growth of people professionally rarely plays out like that.
When you develop engaged employees, you’ll find they are more present and productive — and engaged employees will certainly desire to advance in their careers, whether in your company or a different one. But if you want loyal employees who will go far above and beyond for you in their role, you must offer something in return. That “something” is assistance in getting where they want to go, realizing their career dreams. Even if the place your employees want to go is not necessarily what you would choose, make your goal to be the kind of leader who wants only the best for those who willingly follow.
Three Servant Leadership Principles for Success
Easier said than done? Here’s are three simple steps you can take to empower your employees to thrive.
- Build Up the Company Culture: Your organization absolutely must have a culture of engagement. That requires a strong vision, ways for your employees to connect with that vision, and frequent opportunities for your employees to feel like they matter — to the organization, to the team and to you, their manager. The culture you build directly impacts your employees’ ability to thrive.
- Make a Connection: Draw a clear line between your employees’ work and the purpose and vision of your organization. A disconnect between people and purpose results in employees who don’t feel they don’t have a role in the larger picture. But when the connection is recognized, employees will be driven to complete tasks — even the more mundane day-to-day tasks — as they think about how and where they can grow with the company.
- Bring It All Together: When you can clearly articulate each employee’s role in achieving the company vision, they will be more fully invested in the organization’s success. Look for ways to unite your team, whether through group training, team-building activities or something else altogether. Individually motivated workers who can enjoy working together collaboratively will drive your team to greater achievement.
A manager must wear multiple hats, and it can be hard to balance the various responsibilities you bear. It’s up to you to get results from your team, to meet the goals you set and the goals that are set by your own bosses. But even so, remember that it’s not all about you. Don’t look at your team as a group of people who answer to you; rather, see yourself as the support system needed to help your team reach its potential. When you do, you’ll make an impact that goes far beyond the bottom line.