Servant leaders emphasize others before themselves – to include the organization. The servant leader places the needs, motivations, aspirations, and desires of others before meeting their own needs. For example, say an organization is offering a bonus or training opportunity. The servant leader would have their employee (or peer) receive the bonus or training prior to receiving it themselves.
The leader to organization relationship occurs when the servant leader places the organization before their own personal agenda. The servant leader could demand a raise or leave, placing the organization in a position to lose revenue (assuming here that this would place the organization into a negative position) or lose an employee. The servant leader sacrifices personal gain for the betterment of the organization.
These examples seem simple and straightforward, yet they often lead to resentment on that of the leader attempting a posture of servanthood. Continuous self-sacrifice tends to make some resent their good intentions when left unaddressed over a long period of time. How does one correct this?
Well, it takes a leader that is aware of their surroundings and team, to be cognizant of their peer or subordinate leaders, and ensure that all team members (and the organization) have their needs met. Not only does the servant leader need to ensure the needs of others are met, they need to ensure their needs are met as well. If left unattended, it may take outside influence from other leaders to ensure all needs are met. Still, some thrive on a life of servanthood – Mother Theresa for instance. Most of us cannot sacrifice so much for too long, yet there are times where it is essential for the development and growth of others, including our organization.
Who do you serve first? Yourself, your organization, others?
Jared W. Snow
With the various leadership styles out there, I thought it would be appropriate to start discussing different leadership styles, some of their advantages, shortfalls, and common use. Not to mention that we are The Leadership Center – it just makes sense! In this post, you will find a brief overview of transformation, transactional, and servant leadership. Over the next few weeks, we will dive a bit deeper into these styles to provide a greater understanding of each and the best situations to deploy them.
Transformational leaders motivate and inspire others to achieve greater results for themselves, their team, and their organization. The transformational leader transforms others into accomplished members of the team contributing to a greater purpose. This style leverages the motivation of others, requiring some level of autonomy for those being led – the freedom to make decisions on their own.
The transactional leader uses rewards such as monetary, time off, or recognition to encourage others to achieve intended results. This is more of a “carrot or the stick” approach – less carrot than stick. Transactional leadership is often contrasted with transformational leadership; however, Thite (2000) notes that transformational leadership styles strengthen some transactional characteristics – they enhance versus replace them.
The servant leader serves others first by meeting the personal and professional needs of others before their own. The servant leader does not neglect their own needs, rather, they place the needs of others (including the organization) before their own.
These are not the only leadership styles around, but they are among the most common (positive and effective) styles. I will wrap up this series with a discussion on Situational Leadership, a style studied and discussed by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey. Situational leadership embraces the individual’s different needs and the situation to drive the style or approach. Each style is unique and may be applied successfully in one organization. After all, each person on your team or in your organization is unique and is motivated differently.
Jared W. Snow
Thite, M. (2000). Leadership styles in information technology projects. International Journal of Project Management, 18(4), 235-241. doi:10.1016/S0263-7863(99)00021-6