Creating engaged employees by being engaging
Organizations with a highly engaged and committed workforce are likely to outperform those where employees feel detached and morale is low. Studies suggest that servant leadership creates such engagement. Indeed, in their book, “Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership”, Dr. James Sipe and Dr. Don Frick show that between 1995 and 2005, the returns made by servant-led companies average 24.2% as opposed to an average 10.8% return for the 500 largest publicly held companies. Their conclusion is that servant leadership is the predominant factor for success.
In this article, you’ll learn about seven servant leadership principles – the behaviors that inspire employee engagement.
What is servant leadership?
President Harry S. Truman once said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” This is the basis of servant leadership – placing the wellbeing and progress of those you are leading over and above your own self-interests. It’s about valuing and developing others, and building a community by sharing power. This requires a leader to be genuine, with a high level of emotional intelligence.
7 servant leadership principles
The following principles are not an exhaustive list of the characteristics required to maximize the potential of servant leadership, but they do form a substantial core of required leadership behaviors to do so.
1. Be a good listener
Listening is the most critical tool of conscious communication. It demonstrates respect for others, and enables you to make more productive and better-informed decisions. Listen to both verbal and nonverbal communication, and understand yourself to know how to respond.
2. Be an empathetic leader
It is not enough to listen, you must also understand. Share in the emotions of the other person, and show that you have the imagination to feel what they are.
3. Be a healer
Very few people carry no emotional baggage, or are not hurt by events and situations around them. Servant leaders take the opportunity to be the support that another needs, helping them overcome obstacles and become emotionally whole again. This also applies to healing yourself: be prepared to forgive mistakes, learn from them, and move on.
4. Self and social awareness
Excellence in servant leadership necessitates a deep understanding of self and of others. You should understand the effect that your actions have on others. Be accepting of feedback – indeed, ask for it.
Becoming self-aware can be daunting – there are many natural traits and characteristics you may uncover which you didn’t realize personify you. Yet, with greater self-awareness you will gain a deeper understanding of your own values and beliefs. This is the stepping stone to the depth of social awareness needed to understand and lead those around you.
5. Be a persuasive leader
Instead of using old-style, dictatorial leadership, employ the science of persuasion and the art of appealing. Gain group consensus, using personal power and not positional power. Influence others toward achieving personal and organizational goals, as your team begins to share leadership and responsibility for success.
6. Be a catalyst for personal advancement
Commit to helping others achieve their personal goals, and reward success. Demonstrate that you appreciate efforts made by others, and encourage them on the road of career advancement. The measure of a great leader is not what you achieve, but what is achieved by your followers.
7. Build a community
A community is a team with a shared vision, shared values, and shared goals. While all members within the community can prosper as individuals, the real strength is in the community you have built.
Trust increases productivity
At the very heart of servant leadership is trust. Trust of the leader in their employees, and vice versa. Employees engage when they can openly and actively participate. Productivity rises, and organizational goals become the shared vision. If you do not feel your team is performing at its peak, it may be time to look inward – do you display the emotional intelligence and leadership qualities to engender trust?
Contact Forward Focus today to discover how growing your emotional intelligence will provide the skills needed to inspire a fully empowered and engaged workforce.