The Modern Servant Leadership Movement was founded by Robert C. Greenleaf and is based on an essay he originally published in 1970. Servant-Leadership is a style developed by Robert Greenleaf based on his years of experience in management development, and his wide teaching practice (“What is Servant-Leadership?” n.d.). Although this concept has drawbacks, by implementing it, managers have the opportunity to create conditions for the work of their subordinates that will help them develop professionally, as well as increase their work efficiency.
Traits, characterizing a servant leader
The servant leader must have a certain set of qualities, one of which is the ability to listen. Dolan (2013) concluded that it is important for the servant leader to allow the employee to talk, ask them questions, and after receiving answers, think about them before criticizing. The second important quality is the ability to support the employees. Leader needs to praise the success of their workers and encourage them in case of failure. Blanchard (2008) recommends using this style for motivation and better performance, as well as active listening and contributing to decision-making. The third quality inherent in a servant leader is a willingness to help their employees. It is necessary to show that the leader cares about the career growth of their subordinates and is ready to provide support and mentoring. Boone and Makhani (2012) argue that a leader must know the organization and the challenges it faces. Bypassing on the knowledge and skills, the servant leader lets the workers know that they are not alone and that there is a wise mentor ready to help.
Strengths and Weaknesses of a Servant Leadership Style
The concept of a servant leader has its strengths and weaknesses. The main weakness of this approach is the time it takes for the concept to be successfully implemented. Gallagher et al. (2019) noticed that leaders need to make decisions quickly and grow their people quicker. This style is not suitable in situations where one needs to make a quick decision or meet a tight deadline. Another weakness is that this style focuses much on the leader’s attention on employees, which can lead to disruption of business processes: “The lack of authority creates a conflict of interest due to placing their employees ahead of business objectives” (Judge & Piccolo, 2014, p. 257).
Along with the weak points, this approach has its competitive strong points. First, this approach helps to create a comfortable working environment in which employees will develop and grow: “create a work environment where people feel they can contribute a lot” (Warrior, 2013). As a result, with the development of each employee, the entire organization as a whole develops.
Second, leaders can help their subordinates to achieve success through coaching. Every beginner needs to have an experienced mentor to develop professionally and thus build a strong team. Lashinsky (2012) stated that modern companies are not run by entrepreneurs. Coaching is also effective, as it increases the employee’s motivation, enhances his self-confidence, and under the control of the leader can also bring success to the organization.
To sum up, the servant leadership style is not standard for most organizations, but its implementation can bring success since it focuses primarily on the employees who perform the work. Nevertheless, leaders should pay attention and use this management style, as its advantages can have a positive impact on the success of the entire enterprise.
Blanchard, K. (2008). Situational leadership. Leadership Excellence, 25(5), 19.
Boone, L. W., & Makhani, S. (2012) Five necessary attitudes of a servant leader, Review of Business, 33(1), 83-96.
Dolan, T. C. (2013). Aspirations of a servant leader. Healthcare Executive 28(6), 29-38.
Gallagher, D., Costal, J., & Ford, L. (2012). Validating a leadership model pinpointed self awareness as key to success. T+D, 66(11), 50-54. Web.
Judge, T. & Piccolo, R. (2004). Transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 5, 755- 768.
Lashinsky, A. (2012). Leadership Questions for Apple [Video].
What is Servant-Leadership? (n.d.). The Greenleaf Centre for Servant-Leadership. Web.
Warrior, P. (2013). Growing beyond spreadsheet leadership [Video].