What is servant leadership? I first became aware of servant leadership many years ago when I was introduced to Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. At the time, the term Servant Leadership wasn’t used but I can now recognize that was exactly what the book was about.
I was intrigued with servant leadership because normal leadership models, in my opinion, were and still are failing in the corporate workplace. I watched as leadership set goals each new year and then mandated the organization to reach those goals. It always appeared that achieving those goals – no matter the cost – were not always in the best interest of customers or workers. The achievement mainly benefited upper management with promotions and bonuses.
There had to be another way to lead an organization; one that was in the best interest of the customers and replaced the old adage of “what is in it for me”. For me, it was Servant Leadership. Servant Leadership focuses on others. As the name would suggest, I was a servant to my team. My ‘job’ was to help my team achieve their goals and grow as individuals by putting their needs first.
How does servant leadership apply to our business? My favorite ‘habit’ from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People still is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. It requires me to really listen with the intent to understand. That’s what we do for our clients – really listen to understand THEIR needs, THEIR goals. We are not just trying to sell our services. We want our services to truly add value – we want to SERVE the client. If the client is successful, then in turn our business will be successful.