Your organization members don’t seem as motivated, they’ve lost their commitment to the larger vision, and they’re not as productive as you’d like them to be. And to make matters worse, you often feel isolated and believe that nobody really appreciates what you’re going through.
Let’s examine some current leadership models and their limitations, and then propose a model that more effectively addresses the common problems confronting today’s leader.
A leader who embraces this model of leadership is known as the autocratic leader This type of leader uses power to coerce followers into complying with his or her own needs.
They tend to place the needs of the organization above the needs of their followers. Paternalistic leaders can be either nurturing or critical but what they share in common is their belief that followers are not truly adult partners in the leader-follower relationship. Laub’s research has revealed that most of today’s organizations are paternalistic in their leadership practices.
The third type of leadership is known as servant leadership. The term, initially coined by Robert Greenleaf, refers to placing the legitimate needs of followers above one’s own self-interest. Servant leaders treat their followers as adults and are willing to collaborate, share their power, and commit themselves to others’ growth and development. They are also willing to grant decision-making authority to followers in order to foster a deep sense of commitment and investment in the organization.
Furthermore, servant leaders’ value and seek to foster a strong sense of community among all stakeholders within the organization. Character development is also a priority for servant leaders as they seek to display honesty, integrity, humility, authenticity, and accountability in their personal and work relationships.
There are valid questions and concerns which need to be addressed if you are to move forward in your decision to become a servant leader. Although they may be accountable to a board of directors, organizational leaders are the ones who typically make the major decisions which impact the well-being and performance of their followers and staff. Even if the leader truly believes that his or her decisions are what’s best for the organization, there often arises the challenge of achieving buy-in from the followers.
Lest there be any doubt that servant leaders can be effective in a heavily competitive business climate, those organizations that embrace and implement servant leadership are some of the most successful. Let’s look at the challenges involved in becoming a servant leader.
CHALLENGES OF BECOMING A SERVANT LEADER
There is no question that the primary challenge for many who are interested in becoming a servant leader is the willingness to surrender his or her power and need to control others. Suggesting that one given up power can appear very unsettling to some and even foolhardy to others. However, the paradox is that surrendering one’s power over others actually fosters greater personal power because you gain greater influence and respect through empowering them. When your followers perceive you as sincerely willing to listen to their input, encouraging them to succeed, and caring about their well-being and development, they trust you and become very committed to following you. In effect, you gain tremendous credibility which is the foundation of any genuine leadership.
It’s now time to get more personal and practical in terms of assessing your leadership effectiveness. Are you ready Greg Eberhart?