Gone are the days when leaders were simply expected to give orders and expect their subordinates to follow them blindly. The modern business landscape demands a different approach – one that focuses on serving and empowering others. This is where the concept of servant leadership comes into play.

“Servant leadership is extremely powerful and effective. It is a leadership style that emphasizes the leader’s commitment to serving the needs of their team members, customers, and stakeholders. It involves listening actively, guiding and supporting others to bring out their best, and creating an environment of trust and collaboration,” says Sheila Viesca CEO of TalkShop, a leading provider of leadership training and development,

She adds, “In the current business setting, characterized by constant change, increased complexity, and diverse workforce, practicing servant leadership is not just a nice-to-have quality, but an essential one. It fosters employee engagement, enhances productivity, and drives innovation. By placing the needs and growth of others at the forefront, leaders can create a sense of purpose and fulfillment within their organizations.”

One key aspect of servant leadership is the emphasis on empathy and understanding of the needs and concerns of employees. This approach allows leaders to establish strong rapport and build trust with their team members. By demonstrating genuine care and support, leaders foster a positive and engaging work environment, ultimately resulting in increased productivity and employee satisfaction.

Moreover, servant leaders are committed to developing their employees’ skills and talents. They provide guidance, mentoring, and resources to help individuals reach their full potential. By investing in their employees’ growth and development, servant leaders cultivate a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Servant leadership also promotes collaboration and inclusivity. Leaders who adopt this style encourage open communication, active listening, and involve all team members in decision-making processes. This approach fosters a sense of belonging and empowerment, enabling the team to collectively contribute to the organization’s success.

As businesses continue to navigate challenges and changes, servant leadership provides a framework for effective leadership and sustainable success.To effectively practice servant leadership in today’s competitive business landscape, leaders should possess the following specific characteristics:

1. Empathy: Leaders need to genuinely understand and care about the needs, concerns, and well-being of their employees and stakeholders. They should actively listen, demonstrate empathy, and show a genuine interest in helping others succeed.

2. Adaptability: Servant leaders must be flexible and adaptable to the fast-paced business environment. They should embrace change, be open to new ideas, and be willing to continuously learn and grow.

3. Communication skills: Effective communication is crucial for servant leaders. They should be able to clearly articulate their vision, set expectations, and provide transparent and open communication channels to foster trust and collaboration.

4. Integrity: Servant leaders need to demonstrate high ethical standards, honesty, and strong moral principles. Integrity builds trust and credibility with employees and stakeholders, enabling leaders to guide and influence others effectively.

5. Visionary mindset: Leaders should have a clear vision of the future and be able to inspire and motivate their teams towards achieving common goals. They should be able to communicate their vision and align others’ interests with the greater purpose of the organization.

6. Collaboration skills: In today’s complex business landscape, collaboration and teamwork are of utmost importance. Servant leaders should foster a collaborative culture where employees feel comfortable working together, sharing ideas, and supporting each other towards collective goals.

7. Resilience: Fast-paced and competitive environments can be challenging and demanding. Servant leaders need to demonstrate resilience by staying calm under pressure, handling setbacks effectively, and providing support and guidance to their teams during difficult times.

8. Authenticity: Servant leaders should be genuine, transparent, and true to themselves. Authentic leaders inspire trust and loyalty from their followers, and their authenticity helps build strong, long-lasting relationships within the organization.

9. Commitment to personal development: Effective servant leaders should continuously invest in their own personal and professional development. They should strive to enhance their leadership skills, knowledge, and competence to better serve their teams and stay effective in the changing business landscape.

10. Servant mindset: Lastly, servant leaders should genuinely prioritize the needs, growth, and development of their employees and stakeholders above their own. They should be selfless, self-aware, and willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of others.

Also Read: Employee Time Off, Productivity, and Well-being

In the absence of these servant leadership characteristics and qualities, any other type of leadership may still result in challenges such as lack of employee empowerment and involvement in decision-making processes.  When employees are excluded from decision-making, they often feel disconnected from the organization’s goals and objectives. This hinders their ability to take ownership of their work and feel accountable for their actions. Eventually, reduced motivation becomes evident as employees who are not empowered to participate in decision-making feel less inclined to contribute their best efforts. Without employee involvement, new ideas and perspectives may not surface. And such  scenarios can debilitate innovation and creativity as organizations miss out on the benefits of diverse thinking and innovative solutions to challenges.

To overcome these challenges and foster a servant leadership culture, the following strategies can be implemented:

1. Delegate decision-making authority: Give employees the autonomy to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. This promotes ownership and accountability.

2. Encourage employee input: Seek out and value the opinions and ideas of employees at all levels. Create forums for feedback, such as suggestion boxes, regular team meetings, or interactive communication platforms.

3. Provide training and development opportunities: Equip employees with the skills and knowledge necessary to participate effectively in decision-making processes. This enhances their confidence and ability to contribute meaningfully.

4. Lead by example: Demonstrate servant leadership behaviors by actively involving employees in decision-making, seeking their input, and listening attentively. Modeling this behavior encourages others to follow suit.

5. Foster a culture of trust and psychological safety: Create an environment where employees feel safe to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of reprisal. Encourage open and honest communication.

6. Recognize and reward involvement: Recognize and appreciate employees who actively participate in decision-making processes, collaborate, and contribute valuable insights. This reinforces the importance of employee involvement and empowerment.

By implementing these strategies, organizations can overcome the lack of employee empowerment and involvement in decision-making, creating a servant leadership culture focused on the growth and well-being of employees and the organization as a whole.

TalkShop CEO Sheila Viesca believes that “embracing servant leadership not only benefits individuals but also cultivates a culture of collaboration and empathy within organizations.” She states, “Servant leadership is about empowering individuals to reach their fullest potential while prioritizing the needs of others. Leaders must go beyond merely issuing orders and micromanaging their teams. Instead, they should be actively involved in understanding and supporting their employees’ growth and development. By doing so, leaders can create an environment where everyone feels valued and inspired to contribute their best.”

Posted by TalkShop
Sheila Viesca, TalkShop CEO and Director of Communication finished her bachelor degree in Literature, masters in Entrepreneurship, and doctorate in Applied Cosmic Anthropology. She designed the Philippines' Language Competency Benchmark for the Department of Education and pioneered Integrated Language Teaching (ILT) in workshop designs and corporate communication training. You can follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIN, and Google+


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