"servant leadership"

Fri 11 November 2022
The definition of what it means to be a great business leader has evolved and changed significantly over time. Today, the best leaders are less authoritative and more empathic, often displaying more vulnerability than leaders did in the past.
Servant leadership is a relatively new concept that many leaders are embracing due to its effectiveness in managing and guiding teams. Here are a few reasons why servant leadership is beneficial for a company’s success.  
 
1. It Encourages Strategic Thinking and Innovation
 
A servant leader is willing to follow and does not need to always be in charge. They are civic-minded and ethical, and others are motivated to follow them. Servant leadership does not mean being submissive. True servant leadership encourages strategic thinking and innovation and helps develop others, which is why servant leadership is crucial for any large enterprise to embrace for success.
 
In the book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek demonstrates how the best leaders will wait to hear everyone’s opinion on a subject before sharing their own. First because it allows them to better understand the creative perspective of their team members and second because they are self-aware enough to know that once they share their opinion, it will taint whatever is said after that.
 
2. Teams Accomplish Great Things Together
 
Servant leadership is simply about a leader understanding that they are there to serve. This model can be beneficial when the leader understands that it is about working with others to accomplish great things as a team versus simply directing or managing others. Servant leaders understand that completing the task at hand is more important than their individual success.
 
3. Everyone Learns How To Be Supportive
 
Servant leadership is humbly putting others before oneself through service and doing so without regard to one’s title, status, ego or expectations about the work a leader is “supposed” to be doing. A true servant leader goes to their people and asks, “What can I do to support you in this moment?” with the sole agenda of meeting the person’s need in whatever form it presents itself.
 
4. People Are Inspired To Take Personal Responsibility
 
Servant leadership is a humble style where leaders care for employees holistically and serve them by providing them with autonomy. The style is beneficial for every company because it inspires people to become leaders and take personal responsibility for all of their decisions and actions. Businesses that embrace servant leadership tend to have a great company culture with employees who go above and beyond.
 
 
5. Servant Leaders Build Other Leaders
 
The job of a leader, at the most fundamental level, is to build other leaders. To do that, you must operate in service of others to multiply growth and impact. Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of a leader is to serve. Isn’t that the heart of what leadership is all about?
 
In his essay, The Servant as Leader, Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase "servant-leader," writing, "The servant-leader is servant first … That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions."
Even in the caring professions, money, power or day-to-day decision-making can cause leaders to lose sight of their altruistic goals. They may lead the organization without prioritizing service to the community. However, Greenleaf says, "The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them, there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
 
The differences are:
• A servant-leader's focus is primarily on other people's (and their communities') well-being and growth.
 
• The servant-leader isn't a sole leader with power, but rather, a power-sharer.
 
• They put other people's needs above their own and enable their team to grow, develop and perform to the best of their ability.
 
How To Develop Servant Leadership
 
In Leadership: Theory and Practice, Peter G. Northouse describes 10 characteristics of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people and building community. How do you practice these? Whether you are at work, or in your family or community, servant leadership has a vital role to play, now more than ever. These are three ways that you can begin to develop your servant leadership skills. 
 
  1. Communicate and engage with others. Engage employees in finding solutions and working on projects that benefit those they serve, both in and outside of the organization. Being able to deliver clear-cut messages in a concise way is an important aspect of effective communication. As a servant leader, you need to communicate in a way that makes it easy for people to understand what you want to achieve. That means your instructions need to be clear, with no room for misinterpretation. In this way, you will be in a great position to get your team to accomplish the goals set with maximum efficiency. This consistent engagement will build resilience by sharing positive stories of what your organization and/or employees have been doing well!
 
2. Create a plan. It is important to prepare for potential challenges. Think of the things that need to happen, including obstacles that might get in the way and plan how you will respond. Include your team, and consider this to be a real, working risk assessment with practicable actions. Address all the possible scenarios: extended periods of lockdown, illness, loss of income streams, continued new ways of working or adapted business practices. How will you react to each scenario? Planning ahead, considering all eventualities and knowing what you'll do in each case will help alleviate anxiety, stress and panic, and enable you to act in a calm, measured way. Furthermore, communicating this information with candor builds trust and demonstrates transparency, which is especially important during times of uncertainty.
 
3. Model servant leadership. In times of perceived danger, the primitive "fight, flight, freeze" responses prevail and extraordinary behavior can manifest, like people hoarding toilet paper or reporting their neighbors to the police for taking a walk. In times of crisis, people often look to leaders for how they should respond. So lead by example. Demonstrate servant leadership by modeling the kind of attitude and behavior you want others to have in the face of crisis; one of calmness, sharing, gratitude and compassion for others. Encourage "we" before "me" and walk your talk.
Sun 20 November 2022
In the United States, 45% of businesses don’t make it past five years. 65% don’t make it past ten years. Yet everyone who ever starts a business backs themselves to beat the odds. Is it possible to predict if a business will be a success or a failure in its future? 
Recently, there have been many layoffs in the US, specifically within technology companies. There are 159 million people currently employed in the US, and in the past month there were 1.3 million layoffs.
“There have been several thousand high-profile layoffs in the tech sector in the past couple of weeks. While this is unfortunate, it is useful to keep in mind that the labor market is significantly larger and has been overall healthy,” Bledi Taska, chief economist at labor market consulting and research firm Lightcast, said.
Today’s economic uncertainties have fueled an unstable job market and created an unsettling environment in the workplace – where the lack of transparency, internal politics, the growing number of siloed departments and hidden agendas have made it more difficult to trust yourself, let alone others. What appears to be an endless path of disorganized chaos is now “the new normal.” As such, we must become mentally tough and learn to anticipate the unexpected. 
Employees must approach the workplace through a lens that can detect potholes of distrust while staying focused on seeing and seizing the next opportunity.
 
How Does A Company Decide Who Will Be Laid Off?
There is no one formula that companies use when they need to let go of staff to cut costs. Some organizations may subscribe to the “last one in, first one out” model. Management prefers to keep the long-time staff and pink slip the new employees who just started at the company.
Leadership wants to field the best team. They’ll protect the “A-players” and let go of those who are not top performers. People with highly specialized skills that are hard to replace may be overlooked for dismissal, whereas workers that possess talents that are easily replaced are not safe.
 
Will You be Affected by a Layoff?
            If you are in a revenue-generating division, the odds are high that you’ll be safer than the people working in a cost center. It’s a cold reality that employees and groups that bring in the money generally have more leverage than others who can’t point to adding dollars to the bottom line. In tough times, businesses need people who can ring the register. Those who may be terrific workers, but are not revenue-centric, may have a more challenging time holding onto their job.
            Human resources may weigh in on decisions of who stays and who will be shown the door. They’ll search through personnel records to review performance reviews, look for any recommendations and see if a person committed infractions, violated rules or has a history of causing problems.
            The chief financial officer and accounting team may crunch the numbers and determine that senior employees will be culled. Older workers, on average, tend to earn more than younger staff members because of years of experience. It's not fair, but their higher compensation places a target on their backs. 
It's convenient for the company to say they are just dissolving a unit that has many senior people with sizable pay packages. The business can downsize to fewer highly compensated professionals instead of many mid to junior staff members.
There needs to be a better way for employees to make more strategic evaluations of their employers. From an operational and business perspective, you should be able to predict that your employer will be able to pay your salary, commit to the number of hours per week that you sign on for, and be able to maintain your employment given the success of the company. 
 
How To Identify an Employer You Can Trust
 
1. Reach out to current employees
Even though initiating conversations with current employees might feel a bit awkward at first, the payoff is well worth it. Talking with them is the absolute best way to discover if a company’s branding/messages are accurate and trustworthy. Plus, you’ll get a chance to learn if their interview promises align with their everyday actions.
For example, you might expect your potential employer to provide updated training to any employees affected by automation or innovation.
Don’t just network with your soon-to-be boss or hiring manager. Reach out to potential co-workers. Those who are in the trenches will be able to share if leaders follow through with employee feedback, honor their mission, fulfill promises, etc.
 
2. Research the company’s societal impact
Every prospective employer is vying for top talent, which means they’ll try to make the business look as appealing as possible. Many are doing this by expanding their employer brand and focusing on something all candidates agree on, making the world a better place. 
If you browse the company’s social feed or website, you might see stories sharing how they’ve served the local community, or posts featuring employees’ opportunities for volunteering. But it’s important to understand that they’re creating the narrative they want you to see. What’s their true societal impact?
Social media is good at distorting reality. So, turn to Google and do your own digging: Research the company’s title, leaders’ names, etc. to learn if your prospective employer presents accomplishments in an honest, trustworthy manner.
 
3. Compare reviews to the career site 
Piggybacking off the idea that businesses want to appear as appealing as possible, be wary of company career sites. Each one is designed to draw you in and make you feel connected. A prospective employer will share its best features, such as:
 
●       Competitive pay
●       Amazing benefits
●       Flexibility
●       Work-life balance
●       Paid time off
 
But before you get too excited at the thought of having found your dream job, check out a few review sites. Glassdoor, for example, is a great place to find company reviews from current and former employees. Compare those reviews to the career site promises to measure the truth behind employers’ claims.
 
4. Ask the right questions during an interview 
The interview isn’t just about proving how well you fit with the company, they also need to prove that they’re a good fit for you. Use the time you have together to let them know that employee-employer trust is a critical factor in your decision-making process.
Be direct in your questions and focus on what’s most important to you. For example, if you want to know you can trust the employer’s promise to deliver career development and opportunities to advance, ask for specific examples of how they’ve done this in the past. Then, take things one step further and ask how they plan to provide the same to you (should you receive an offer).
Trust is a two-way street; be transparent in what you have to offer, and your prospective employer will likely do the same.
Sun 20 November 2022
All successful managers have some form of personality trait or talent that predisposes them for leadership. Some of them may have attained this skillset through years of education and training, while others may have been naturally gifted with this, but at the end of the day, one factor holds true. These talents can be categorized into a Goleman Style

            Daniel Goleman is an American author, psychologist, and journalist, best known for writing a book in 1995 called Emotional Intelligence.  Some of the topics in this book aren’t necessarily ones that pertain to managers, but they can still get value out of reading it. However, the main point of interest from this work is that of the descriptions of Leadership styles, more commonly known as the Goleman Styles. 

            Each Goleman Style has both good values and bad values associated with them, and Dr. Goleman has recommended that the most effective leaders make use of all six of these styles. The styles are as follows:

1.     Commanding Leadership
2.     Visionary Leadership
3.     Democratic Leadership
4.     Coaching Leadership
5.     Affiliative Leadership
6.     Pacesetting Leadership

Overviews of the Goleman Styles

Each of the Goleman Styles has been studied by psychologists and business leaders to determine their flaws and benefits. For more information about the stories, I recommend reading the book Emotional Intelligence. While some of the concepts in this book may not hold true today as a result of further research, the leadership styles are still known to be true. 

1)     Commanding Leadership can also be known as Authoritarianism or Directive Leadership and is most often viewed as a negative method of leadership. In this style, the leader is responsible for making all the business process decisions. Leaders must exert tight control over their workplace and workforce and have a very clear goal in mind with what to work with. This is especially effective within workforces where employees are low-skilled or inexperienced, as well as in situations in which a leader might be called upon to make quick decisions. Commanding Leadership can also ruin direct-report engagement, since no one other than a leader will generally have any input on decision-making. Therefore, it is often passed up on in favor of different styles. 
2)     Visionary Leadership is largely dependent on a leader having a final goal in mind. This leader can then go on to inspire their direct reports and harness their participation and goal setting to accomplish this goal. Examples of these leaders include Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. While this form of leadership can completely allow for a corporate overhaul, it has a major flaw in terms of short-term problems. An example of this can be seen in Gandhi’s journey to free India from British Imperialism. While he was able to accomplish his goal in 1947, his marches were often divisive, prioritizing men over women, and Hindus over Muslims, along with upholding the Caste System, which are all problems that plague India to this day.
3)     Democratic Leadership completely enables all members of a team to participate in the decision-making progress. Any member can come in with an idea and can determine whether or not the idea is worth going forth with by using a consensus amongst other members, along with a final ruling by a leader. Democratic Leadership is particularly useful at getting team member involvement and retaining staff, but has a flaw in its speed, often taking time to come up with decisions. This can be dangerous when quick decisions are required to be made. 
4)     Coaching Leadership is all about Service Leadership. In this rarer form of leadership, a leader’s primary responsibility and first priority is to coach team members to develop and improve over time. This can dramatically assist in retention and engagement and creates a more skilled workforce. However, coaching can often prove to be very difficult, and does not provide an immediate result. This form of leadership is highly synergistic with AIM Insights and the AIM Insights People Leader Certification.
5)     Affiliative Leadership solely targets the feelings of direct reports. The main goal of this is to make everyone “feel good.” This is especially useful in situations where a pool of individuals are in disagreement. HR professionals are often highly adept at Affiliative Leadership and patching relationships between people. This relies on having a strong moral compass and a strong desire to avoid tension. One fatal flaw with this form of leadership is that these leaders are often avoidant of conflict and have trouble making difficult decisions that may cause someone to suffer. In business, there are sometimes difficult conversations that are well-needed, such as talking to underperforming employees. Affiliative Leaders may not necessarily be the best at addressing this.
6)     Pacesetting Leaders are similar to Commanding Leaders in which they are both the primary driver of the workforce. The concept of the Pacesetting Leader is similar to that of a Pacesetter in a marathon. These individuals serve as an example and the epitome of the statement “do as I do.” Pacesetting leaders are often highly motivated, are good at clearly communicating tasks, and are talented at setting trends. These leaders have expectations of their subordinates and know exactly how much work they can do without failure. This style of leadership can also stress direct reports and does not allow for much feedback or engagement. Therefore, it has another similarity with Commanding Leadership in that it is poorly regarded by direct reports.

Understanding what situation to exercise each type of leadership is a benchmark of a talented leader. While Commanding and Pacesetting Leaderships aren’t to be used at all times, they have certain benefits in certain scenarios. The individual fallings and strengths in each style can allow for a balanced leadership style, and overall make a better leadership experience as well. Goleman Styles aren’t a panacea by any means, but they can come together to truly make a leader. 

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