Servant Leadership Examples: What you need to know

Memory Nguwi / Posted On: 10 May 2022 / Updated On: 4 October 2022 / Organisational Development / 258

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Servant Leadership Examples: What you need to know



Servant leadership is all about serving others. It's about putting others first, even when it's not convenient or comfortable. It's about abandoning ourselves and using our strengths to help others. As a leader, it's your job to inspire, motivate, and empower your employees. But as the philosopher, Nietzsche once said, "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Your employees will only become stronger and more capable when they have the space to be themselves and follow their passions, and that only happens when you're a servant-leader. As you'll learn in this article, servant-leaders are selfless, put the needs of others before their own, and are characterized by humility and compassion.

 

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According to the scholars who studied it, servant leadership might be regarded somewhat as a universal notion despite its origins in both Eastern and Western cultures. When it comes to the East, leadership researchers cite Chinese philosophers from the 5th century BC, such as Laozi, who believed that when the best leaders completed the task of their organizations, their members would respond, "we did it ourselves."

 

An effective servant leader creates a supportive environment where their team can thrive. This is in contrast to giving them precise instructions on how to do each of their responsibilities. The servant-leader places oneself at the service of their people within the framework established by those leadership decisions and actions.

 

The Servant as Leader, a 1971 essay by Robert Greenleaf, became very popular in contemporary leadership circles due to its popularity. Greenleaf, who died in 1990, went on to build the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in Atlanta, which is still in operation today.

 

The term servant leadership has been popularised by a variety of business leaders who have used their position of power to put the needs of others before their own. The most high-profile practitioners of servant leadership are bound together by their focus on serving the people around them, even at the expense of their success. But there are other, less obvious ways that servant leadership manifests itself. An early and persistent thread running through servant leadership is its emphasis on examples, both as a way of illustrating the concept and its application in practice.

 

The concept of servant leadership has been gaining traction over the past decade. It is the idea that leaders should serve the people they lead rather than be served by them. This radical concept goes against everything we're taught about leadership. But when we shift our focus away from the leader being "in control" and instead ask, "What can I do for others?"



The philosopher and teacher Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." He was referring to the fact that everyone has the ability and capacity to serve others. What this means in practice is that servant leaders are selfless. However, it's only when we allow ourselves to be guided by this idea that we begin to realize our true potential.

 

Related: 15 reasons why leaders fail and what to do about it

 

Like most leadership concepts, servant leadership can be broken down into a series of loosely defined principles, or "ingredients", that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of different leadership styles. The most high-profile servant leadership practitioners have all used a similar set of ingredients. Still, their recipes have been mixed in different proportions to give birth to various flavors. But regardless of their unique blend, all servant-leaders share several character traits. They are all characterized by humility and compassion.

 

Researchers have conducted several studies looking into the characteristics of servant-leaders. One such study, published in the Academy of Management Journal in 2012, analyzed the servant-leadership examples of 24 of the most admired business leaders. These leaders came from 14 different industries and included household names and relative unknowns. The researchers looked at several different characteristics, including their measures of humility and selflessness, and found that all of the servant-leaders they studied exhibited these traits.

 

A number of studies have been conducted on the link between servant-leadership and performance. Many of these studies have looked at the impact of servant-leadership interventions on individual performance levels, with some surprising and promising results. For example, in one study, researchers found that when teachers were trained to act as servants, their students' academic performance improved. In another study, researchers found that their sales increased when salespeople were encouraged to act as servants.

 

Research has shown that servant-leaders display several positive characteristics. One study found that servant-leaders are more likely to be perceived as highly ethical than leaders with a more command-and-control style. They tend to be rated higher on the dimensions of warmth and competence, which goes a long way towards explaining their success in motivating and inspiring their employees. They are also more likely to be viewed as transformational leaders, which means that they are well-liked by their employees and colleagues.

 

Related: 20 Examples Of Transformational Lead/ers

 

Here's a breakdown of some of the more high-profile examples of servant-leadership that you may have come across. The first is the story of Bill Ford, the former CEO of Ford Motor Company. During his tenure at the helm of the company, Ford was known for his humility and selflessness. He spent a large portion of his time serving in the factories where his employees worked, which helped him to build strong relationships with them. He also served on the boards of numerous organizations that helped to further the mission of helping others, including the RAND Corporation, the United States National Academy of Sciences, and the Boy Scouts of America. Ford was known to frequently visit the Lincoln plant in Michigan and the Ford Rouge facility in Kentucky.

 

Ford's dedication to servant leadership is reflected in the stories of Ford's employees, one of whom describes him as a "man of the people." Another says that Ford was always willing to spend time talking to his employees, even when he was busy. His employees loved him for it, and it showed in the quality of their work. Ford also demonstrated servant leadership by setting an example of humility, often going out of his way to avoid the limelight.

 

The second is the story of Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft. Gates has been hailed as one of the most generous philanthropists globally. Gates has used his wealth to fund a range of charitable causes, but he is perhaps best known for his commitment to improving the lives of the world's poorest people. Gates has spent an enormous amount of his time working in the poorest countries in the world, which has allowed him to build strong relationships with the people he is trying to help.

 

The third is the story of Warren Buffett, the billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett is another high-profile example of a servant-leader who has used his immense wealth to further a variety of charitable causes. He has also used his wealth to fund a number of organizations that help to improve the lives of the world's poor people, which is perhaps another way of saying that he is a "good billionaire.", as one of his investments has put it. "

 

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Southwest Airlines, founded by Herb Kelleher and operating under his guidance, is commonly given as an example of a servant leadership organization in practice. As a result of Kelleher's concept of putting employees first, the company has a highly engaged and low turnover staff. It has achieved profitability for 35 years or more, an unheard-of feat in the volatile airline sector.

 

Characteristics of servant leadership

servant leadership characteristics

 

The first characteristic of servant-leadership is that they are selfless, which is reflected in how they spend their time. Servant-leader will often spend a large portion of their time serving the people they are leading, which helps build trust and furthers the organization's mission. A servant-leader will also avoid spending time in situations where they are the center of attention, which helps to build humility and avoid creating the impression that they are more important than they are. The result is that servant-leaders tend to build strong relationships with the people they serve, which is particularly beneficial in the workplace.

 

They are willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves, and they put the interests of others before their own. They are also committed to the greater good of their organizations, which means that they are loyal to the goals that have been set for the company, even when it means making tough decisions. They are also loyal to the people they work with, which means that they are committed to the success of the individuals within their organization. A servant-leader will often put the success of their employees first, which is a reflection of their selflessness. They will also work hard to ensure that their employees are happy and successful, which reflects their commitment to the success of their organization.

 

Related: Transformational Leadership Theory

 

Servant Leadership examples: Advantages of servant leadership

There are also some disadvantages associated with this leadership style. To fully understand the disadvantages of servant leadership, it is first necessary to understand the core concepts of this leadership style. One of the fundamental tenets of servant leadership is that the leader should set an example of humility, honesty, and vulnerability.

 

A few leaders embody the qualities of servant leaders. To lead effectively as a servant, a person must balance the best qualities of a traditional leader with those of a servant. To lead as a servant, a person must be willing to put others before themselves and serve the needs of others before their own. The ability to be a servant leader is a rare and valuable trait but is not without its challenges.

 

Conclusion

The biggest challenge facing leaders who wish to lead as servants is that it is difficult to be a servant without being a selfless person. The ability to be a servant leader is dependent on a leader's ability to be selfless and put the needs of others before their own. Because of this, it is rare to find leaders who embody the qualities of servant leaders. For this reason, it is difficult for a leader to set an example of humility, honesty, and vulnerability when they are surrounded by yes-men and women who are only concerned with their own well-being and advancement.

 

Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm.Email:[email protected] or visit our websites https://www.thehumancapitalhub.com/ and  www.ipcconsultants.com

 


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