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