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Leadership Tip: Leading by Serving

Good leaders see leadership as a service. They seek to remove obstacles, provide training, give motivation, and reinforce with praise so that the people they lead can do their best work and accomplish the organization’s objectives. Just as the Pope calls himself servus servorum, the servant of servants, good leaders put the good of their employees and the organization above themselves.

There are several reasons why this type of service leadership is more effective than old-fashioned “do what I say or else” authoritarianism. Even in organizations like the military that require top-down command, service leadership offers a number of benefits.

Works in any situation

Top-down leadership only works where the leader is in a position to enforce decisions and offer rewards for compliance or punishments for non-compliance. This approach is less effective in cross-functional groups where leaders must get results from people they do not directly control. By adopting an attitude of service, you are more likely to convince other groups to help you.

Enables synergy to take place

In a top-down command environment, the organization’s vision is limited to that of the leader. When you give your group freedom to develop own their vision and ideas, a broader range of creative solutions becomes available.

Improves productivity

A top-down command environment also limits productivity. When followers depend on the leader for direction, the leader becomes a bottleneck. Productivity stops when the leader is not available. When you give your staff the authority as well as the responsibility to do tasks, productivity increases as people are free to move ahead with projects. This is true empowerment.

Increases morale and loyalty, decreases turnover

Employees do not tolerate being micromanaged for very long. Eventually, they will get fed up and leave. When you show your employees respect and trust, employees respond by showing confidence and loyalty to you. This enables you to build a strong, productive team.

Builds your stature to your managers

Service leadership improves your position with the company. Management sees you as a team player when you put the group’s needs above your own. Your peers in management see you as someone they would want to work for when you are promoted.

So, set aside your desire to control and gain recognition for yourself. By adopting the attitude of service for your employees, you are more likely to get increased productivity, more team loyalty, and advancement opportunities.