By Ilana Greene and Nicholas Olds
When we look at the state of our economic climate, politics, and the decline in trust people have for their leaders, there is a renewed emphasis on the right kind of leadership in the corporate structure. As the old saying goes, “If the results you are getting are not meeting your goals and expectations, it is insane to keep doing the same old thing.” This is why business leaders are struggling to find new strategies to be competitive in a global economy, develop a consistent strategy that works during tough and uncertain times, lead a diverse workforce, handle the uncertainty of future government regulations and tax laws, and deal with the stress of working more with less resources and personnel.
As a consultant, Bill Flint, CEO and President at Flint Strategic Partners,meets with employees and leaders at organizations each day with a subset of these issues. However, the most common problems shared by any organization is the need for improvement in communication and conflict resolution. This is not necessarily a byproduct of unqualified personnel or lax effort; rather it is mostly due to a lack of training, which puts companies in "fire drill mode" due to hectic schedules.
Inevitably, this results in stress, frustration and complaints at the leadership level regarding poor employee performance, or employee-level complaints regarding absentee leadership. Not only does this cause a schism in leadership and employee expectations, but this lack of communication and conflict resolution creates a gap between corporate vision and a common understanding of corporate goals. This is why the concept of Servant Leadership is vital to all organizations, because it emphasizes employees as leaders themselves.
Bill Flint believes Servant Leadership as a corporate philosophy is an asset to any organization because of the focus on communication as one of the top priorities. Without Servant Leadership, he believes there are three main communication problems that occur in most companies: 1) communication prohibits the organization and its employees from reaching their potential; 2) personnel use the wrong type of communication in that they are not conveying necessary information; 3) people communicate with one another, but are not getting through to each other.
These circumstances are where Servant Leadership becomes a resolution, because it:
- Sets goals
- Helps all personnel understand their expectations and how their work will be measured
- Initiates performance reviews
- Solicits feedback from all employees
- Provides inspiration, encouragement and motivation
- Establishes discipline
- Makes conflict resolution more effective
- Establishes management level personnel as "coaches" rather than "bosses"
Within the Servant Leadership management structure, servant leaders understand that it is their objective to “help both the people and the bottom line grow." The goal is for the business and its people to build a sustainable competitive advantage.
Perhaps just as important as effective communication, conflict resolution is handled by leaders each day to ensure that employee time is not wasted on unproductive activity. With effective communication progressing the company forward, conflict resolution enables companies to remove barriers that prevent making sound decisions, executing tasks, and achieving corporate goals.
Most importantly though, Servant Leadership instills accountability equally throughout a company, which prevents silos in communication so that errors and problems are reported accurately. This ensures that organizations can withstand lean economic periods and overcome all issues pertaining to communication.
Ultimately, companies utilizing Servant Leadership have learned that to build relationships with employees and help the company grow to its potential, they must “really get to know them.” Their goals, their talents and skills, their potential and how they are as leaders can help them grow.
Servant leadership is about helping the people you lead discover and reach their potential, improving communication, developing a feedback system, team building and developing a new trust and respect between leaders and their people.
Servant leadership helps people feel they have a voice in decision making and the work they perform helping people feel a great commitment to the overall business and a greater responsibility for what happens.
Servant leadership is a leadership style that is focused on growing and developing people .Building a “culture of enquiry” through training, teaching , mentoring and coaching.
The end goal of a servant led organization is to make decisions that will help both the people they serve and the organization bottom line grow that creates a win-win relationship for the people and the company.
Bill Flint's book, The Journey To Competitive Advantage Through Servant Leadership, is the #9 best-selling book on Amazon out of 5,400 books in the servant leadership category.