Here Kris Tiarks, our US channel partner and hospitality expert, talks about servant leadership and how it can have a positive impact on your operations.
Servant leadership is a style of leadership that can be overlooked too easily these days. The goal of the leader is to serve. This is very different from traditional leadership where the leader’s main focus is the thriving results of the company.
We talk about servant leadership in our mastering multi-unit management module on becoming the manager of managers. If we look at traditional leadership versus servant leadership:
With a traditional leadership approach, the leader encourages people to do their jobs by providing them with guidance, direction and motivation.
In servant leadership, the leader ensures that the followers are growing in all areas — their profession, knowledge, autonomy and even their health and physical development.
A servant leader shares power, puts the needs of the team members first, helps them to develop and maintain high performance. Leadership studies of the hospitality industry show that, “the servant leader’s ability to be self-aware allows them to serve their employees more effectively, which in turn decreases the turnover rate, and increases employee performance.”
Some of the principles of servant leadership focus on growing relationships with your team and modelling that. Instead of the team members working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the team! Many people think that servant leadership is doing everything for everybody but, in reality, you are growing that relationship with your team to achieve great results. When leaders shift their mindset and serve first, they benefit as well as the team members because those team members are growing, while the commitment and engagement of the team the organisation is developing too.
In their book, The Long-Distance Leader, Kevin Eikenberry and Wayne Turmel, include this focus on others as part of their Three O model of Leadership – Outcomes, Others and Ourselves. The leadership skills deployed in the “Others” section of the model include coaching individuals and the team, along with an emphasis on communication. They lay out seven clear reasons why the best leaders focus on others, although for me, they capture the heart of the servant leadership mindset when they state that “You can’t do it all alone anyway” and that “you win when they win”.
Leadership has a vision, a direction you have with goals, tasks, and plans. This tends to be hard to do by yourself but when you have a team of people working with you it tends to be easier. You help your team win at these tasks, goals and projects, which in turn is supporting the plan in front of you.
You are working for your team!
This is a powerful way to have great people, great teams, and great results, serving people and not being served.