To me, servant leadership is the only way to guarantee great relationships and great results. Why? When you treat people well (catch them doing things right), praise them when they are doing well, and redirect them when they get off track; when you empower them to do their very best, you will get positive results. As a leader, I personally like to take a more holistic approach. This just means, you must understand your own unique organizational culture. You must be able to hold leaders accountable to seeing that vision through. You must analyze real data gathered from your workforce to gage the effectiveness of both.
Good leadership leads to a strong culture, which leads to a successful organization. I believe, the best leaders are the ones who see the bigger picture, how it all works together, and put in the hard work to improve the organization as a whole over time. By creating a holistic approach, it requires me to look at the bigger picture and see the relationships between the people and the organization as well as the organization and the community to which we serve. I, as a servant leader, view the people on my team as more than just staff. They are part of the organizational family.
Growing as a leader, I personally was taught that you must serve first. You can’t expect people to follow you, if you’ve never served or are not willing to continue to serve. You can’t ask your team to do things that you yourself are not willing to do. Leaders lead by example. People need to be encouraged to be who they are, and their individual strengths need to be identified, cultivated, and celebrated. To do this, servant leaders need to create an environment where team members can feel comfortable to take risks and make mistakes so they can discover their strengths.
Once a servant leader has created a team that works together and takes responsibility for each other, they can step back and concentrate on supporting the team rather than directing it. As a leader, I must still provide the vision and goal for the team, but how the team gets there can be decided by the empowered individuals on the team. Organizations need servant leaders in their workforce. I have experienced the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector. I hope you will not only implement servant leadership in your organization but also spread the word to everyone who will listen. I believe that someday everyone, everywhere will be influenced by a servant leader – or become one.
Written by Tamarra Coleman, Executive Director of the Shalom Center of Interfaith Network of Kenosha County, Inc.