Servant Leadership Style and Leadership Philosophy Essay

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Leadership philosophy denotes the values, beliefs, and principles that define or influence how a leader leads their followers. There are many different leadership philosophies, but one philosophy that particularly resonates with the author’s leadership philosophy is servant leadership. Servant leadership is about serving others and prioritising the needs of others. As demonstrated in this paper, servant leadership is a leadership philosophy that is applicable at the workplace as well as in one’s personal life. Servant leadership is crucial for building strong relationships, trust, respect, and collaboration between the leader and their followers. In spite of some shortcomings, servant leadership – if effectively applied – can result in more fulfilling workplaces and personal lives.

Introduction


Whereas there is no universally agreed definition, leadership essentially means the process of influencing a group of people to accomplish a shared goal or objective (Northouse, 2013). A leader offers guidance, direction, and motivation. Different leaders use different styles to influence their followers. For instance, some prefer making all the decisions by themselves, while others give their followers decision making authority. Leadership style basically constitutes what is known as leadership philosophy – the set of values, beliefs, attitudes, and principles that form the basis of a leader’s behaviour or approach to leadership (Kouzes, Posner & Biech, 2010). Leadership philosophy is what a leader stands for, what a leader believes in, or what makes one leader different from another. It is important to understand one’s leadership philosophy. This knowledge is crucial for gauging how effective one is with respect to their leadership style – i.e. their strengths and weaknesses. In this paper, I describe my leadership philosophy. First, I describe my personal management mission statement and then explain it in light of leadership philosophy. Next, I explain how I can implement my leadership philosophy at my workplace. Finally, I consider how I can implement my leadership philosophy in my personal life.

Personal Management Mission Statement



From my perspective, a leader is one who serves others. A leader places their interests after everyone else’s. In other words, a good leader prioritises the needs of his/her followers. Rather than expecting their followers to serve them, good leaders serve others. They share power with their followers, they help them grow, and value them. They lead from the front and roll back their sleeves to work alongside their followers. Following from this belief, my personal management mission statement reads as follows: leadership is service to others, not being served.



My leadership philosophy is consistent with the theory of servant leadership. Though servant leadership has been in existence for centuries or even millennia, the concept was first described by Robert K. Greenleaf in his 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader”. Greenleaf describes servant leadership as leadership that “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first” (Northouse, 2013, p. 220). A servant leader is consciously or naturally motivated by the need to prioritise the needs of those he/she serves (Greenleaf, 2003). In other words, servant leaders put the wellbeing of their followers before theirs. They are selfless, supportive, effective listeners, persuasive, and influential. Also, servant leaders are constructive, motivating, flexible, and noticeably committed to the growth of their followers (Northouse, 2013). These characteristics set apart servant leadership from other leadership styles.

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Servant leadership is advantageous for a number of reasons. First, servant leaders build strong relationships with their followers (Neuschel, 2005). Due to their evident commitment to the needs of their followers, servant leaders gain the trust and confidence of their followers. With assurance that the leader is concerned about their wellbeing, followers reciprocate by portraying loyalty to the leader, ultimately resulting in a strong team. Another upside of servant leadership is that it fosters shared decision making. Servant leaders empower their followers to participate in decision making. This participative approach to leadership further strengthens the leader-follower relationship as the leader demonstrates acknowledgement of followers’ ideas and opinions (Northouse, 2013). An even more important advantage is that servant leaders support the growth of their followers. Unlike other types of leaders, servant leaders are likely to generate leaders with similar characteristics. In other words, they help their followers to become servant leaders as well.



However, servant leadership may have some downsides. For instance, the participative style a servant leader encourages may be perceived as lack of authority or control. This is not necessarily true. Being a servant leader does not inevitably mean a leader has no power over their followers. It also does not mean that one is a doormat for everyone to step on. Instead, servant leadership means that though the leader gives followers an opportunity to offer their perspectives, the ultimate decision making authority rests with the leader (Greenleaf, 2003). Furthermore, servant leaders can more readily control their team due to the immense trust their followers have in them. Another shortcoming with respect to servant leadership stems from concerns over how effectively servant leaders can get the job done as they focus too much on people as opposed to the task. While there could be some merit in this argument, it is important to note that servant leaders are likely to be effective as they tend to be involved in doing the task themselves. They do not just give directives and wait for reports on their desks – they lead from the front.


Implementation of Personal Leadership Philosophy at the Workplace



The relevance of servant leadership at the professional workplace is immense (Davis, 2017). This is particularly true in today’s workplace, wherein employees desire flexibility, recognition, motivation, and empowerment. As mentioned earlier, servant leaders put other people’s interests first. Accordingly, the first step in implementing servant leadership at the workplace is to understand the needs of followers. What are their interests? What matters most to them? What do they value? Do they just need good compensation, or they also need a friendly work environment? Do they value work-life balance? Do they like being involved in decision making? Answering these questions is crucial as the leader gets a better understanding of their followers’ most important need.



For instance, if followers desire proper work-life balance, a servant leader will assign work roles with this need in mind. The leader, for example, will allow a worker who recently got a baby to report to….....

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References

Blanchard, K. (2003). Servant leader. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Davis, C. (2017). Servant leadership and followership: Examining the impact on workplace behaviour. New York: Springer.

Greenleaf, R. (2003). The servant-leader within: A transformative path. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Kouzes, J., Posner, B., & Biech, E. (2010). A coach’s guide to developing exemplary leaders: Making the most of the leadership challenge and the leadership practices inventory (LPI). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Neuschel, R. (2005). The servant leader: Unleashing the power of your people. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice. 6th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Spears, L., & Lawrence, M. (2002). Focus on leadership: Servant leadership for the 21st century. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

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