Servant leadership is viewed as a more authentic approach to genuinely address the needs of the followers.
Many people hear of transformative leadership, which sees people’s needs as a means to an end. Transformative leadership believes that fulfilling people’s needs will positively change them. However, servant leadership is a style of leadership that has been gaining popularity because it sees people’s needs as the end in itself. Servant leadership does not expect any outcome other than simply fulfilling people’s needs. It is implied that serving them will only do well for them.
Servant leadership today
Servant leadership is not only found in theory anymore. Researchers have shifted their studies to empirically verifiable research findings. Many researchers have also been successful in almost accurately predicting the impact and benefits of the servant leadership approach when applied. It is easier to observe and evaluate how effective servant leadership leads to specific outcomes with such findings.
Organisations worldwide are directing their focus toward helping people grow and focus. Furthermore, the motivation of those in leadership positions is aligned to serve others, not just to lead, as almost every stakeholder in an institution has access to all information with the click of a button. The days when leadership and data were preserved for the few elites are bygone.
In the organisational sense, servant leadership empowers the subordinates to become unit leaders. The competitive future belongs to those leaders and organisations which will have everyone on board empowered to identify and resolve the organisation’s problems. It awards organisational citizenship through servant leadership — this means that for employees to show altruism and go beyond their call of duty, the servant leader must empower each of them to feel like a significant member. This is only achievable when an organisation’s leadership is concerned with everyone’s holistic well-being and growth.
Job performance is the aggregate of the contribution of all individuals to the organisational goal over time. It could be task performance or contextual performance. Task performance contributes to goods and services and is relatively easy to measure and monitor. On the other hand, contextual performance involves interpersonal and voluntary activities which help an organisation achieve its core goals in a broader context. Contextual organisational goals can only be achieved with a united team of empowered staff and an environment that focuses on the staff members’ holistic welfare.
Globalisation has shrunk the world into one village. Different cultures and norms now influence one another across continents. Multinationals are exporting best practices while at the same time learning from their host communities. The vibrant human rights movements worldwide have shifted the focus to human needs. In this competitive 21st century, the institutions that will survive are those willing to embrace change and have servant leadership at the core of their organisational structure. However, labour unions, past management and leadership styles based on command, prestige and authority will cease to survive.
How servant leadership will change the world
Promoters and practitioners of servant leadership suggest that once servant leadership is internalised and lived to its tenets, the fruits of successful servant leadership will manifest in every aspect of society through most of the various attributes enumerated by scholars. Everyone will listen and be listened to; hence there will be little or no misunderstandings. This will help build a united, cohesive community that confronts common challenges in unison. As such, society will be more empathetic, resulting in a more committed society to the growth of every member.
Organisations will be more responsive to the needs of those who work for them and members of the society in which they operate. In essence, that will boost corporate social responsibility more than ever. Also, people will resort to persuasion and dialogue to resolve conflicts, not power and authority, which could easily create disaffections and even violence. People will develop a sense of altruism. This will make everyone go beyond the mere call of duty, benefiting the whole organisation or society, even outside their official duty.
Nevertheless, the failure of servant leadership will only be by those who refuse to conform and opt to stick to the old ways. They might lag us behind in this endeavour but risk becoming obsolete and out of business.