Recently, I met with a new client struggling to implement standards of servant leadership into his team.
His intentions were good and he understood the principles of servant leaders: to put the interests of others first and lead selflessly. It seemed like he had the tools to succeed, so how did he fail?
The crucial error he made was confusing providing with serving.
While providers may have the best intentions and provide things of value to their teams, they are unlikely to lead their teams to extraordinary levels.
Servant leaders, on the other hand, provide for their teams in practical ways, as well as serving their highest priorities.
What is a “Provider?”
A Provider holds sole responsibility for their team’s wellbeing. They are responsible for tangible and intangible employee benefits, such as compensation, training, and goal-setting.
They create a plan and assign tasks to be achieved by their team members.
When an error occurs or a mistake is made they correct it and solve the issue.
Providers are responsible for producing outcomes and generating results. They are accountable for the overall success of the whole, whether that be successes or failures
What is a “Servant-Leader?”
While providers and servant-leaders stem from the same intentions, it is their method of going about them that differs vastly.
Unlike a provider, servant-leaders share the responsibility with their team members. There is no pointing fingers or playing the blame game; successes are celebrated as a team and mistakes are mitigated together.
Goals and targets are set as a team. While a Servant Leader is responsible for leading a team, they do not maintain executive power to delegate all tasks and strategies.
Servant-leaders support autonomous team members and will endeavor to collaborate and offer guidance, rather than overseeing each and every operation.
Above all, a servant-leader is a coach and mentor. They empower and grow their teams by sharing their wisdom, experience, and expertise.
Growth is facilitated through training, mentorship programs, team-building and performance evaluations. The goal of a servant-leader is to support their teams in acquiring skills and abilities that are lasting and meaningful.
Finally, a Servant Leader takes an interest in their teams beyond a workplace capacity. Work-life balance is important in servant leadership, and servant-leaders invest themselves in the wellbeing of their employees. This also includes understanding their career goals in the company.
Are you a Provider or a Servant-Leader?
The difference is not always immediately clear and you may be wavering somewhere in the middle.
If you’re committed to becoming a servant-leader and are ready to nurture the process, get in touch with our team.
We can help. Ask us about our Leadership Advisory Support services and explore servant leadership in your organization.