According to the Servant Leadership Institute, there are three components essential to servant leadership:
Each attribute is important in building a culture of trust in an organization that fosters high-performing, accountable and satisfied employees.
SLI highlights an interesting article, Are you a Bridge-Builder or a Bridge-Burner? that identifies the level of trust in an organization. Employees essentially evaluate their leaders through 3 questions:
1. Do you care about me?
A question of compassion. How far does your care for your employees extend? Is it strictly tied to the workplace or does it include their personal lives and affairs?
Learn about their goals and how they envision their future at the company. Doing so will help leaders understand how to invest in their employees, as well as support them.
Leaders can demonstrate compassion by asking their employees questions. What motivates them? What do they like about their role; what do they dislike? What do they enjoy about the company?
Accountability and autonomy is also important. Encourage your employees to take responsibility for their actions, and put emphasis on how their individual contributions are essential to organizational goals and outcomes.
Set clear expectations with your employees, so they are able to work towards their fullest potential. Once goals are set, revisit them often and track progress.
2. Do I trust you?
This is a question of character. Most importantly, how is trust rebuilt when it is burned?
With effort from both sides, trust can be rebuilt by:
- Active listening. Talking less and listening more will show a genuine interest and open the gates of more honest communication.
- Transparency. Honesty is vital to building trust, even when that requires a certain degree of vulnerability.
- Integrity. Petty office politics and gossip do not support an environment of trust.
- Courage. When you are wrong, admit to it and seek to make amicable amends. It is not always easy to admit when you’ve made a mistake, but it will ultimately bring your team closer together.
3. Can you help me?
A question of competence.
Servant leaders are categorized by their dedication to the service and well-being of others. That means they must give up some things to achieve their goals.
Ego has no place in servant leadership. Leaders must be willing to set aside their individual success for the sake of a greater whole. Servant leaders can achieve this by dedicating their energy to mentorship, training and sharing their experience and knowledge.
In a servant leadership model, credit is shared, and happily so! There is no pointing fingers or playing the blame game.
Leaders can reflect on these 3 questions and work with their teams to discover where they need to improve and which areas need the most attention. Don’t wait to guess at the answer, just ask your team and start a dialogue.
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