Genuinely caring about staff in and outside the office, Servant Leadership is real, and a style of management making people not only love their job - but never want to leave it
By Nicki Wilson
I often get asked about my style of management and find it difficult to summarise exactly what style it is. I have been calling it bottoms up, partly due to it being quite a funny term to coin, but also because the word ‘servant’ does not sit well. Widely known as ‘servant leadership’ this is a non-traditional philosophy that I believe works with the evolving world. This style of management certainly serves, whether the employee, manager or the overall business. Fundamentally the concept surrounds the idea that the ‘leader’ should be leading by example, whilst being a constant support, caring about the team and ensuring they have all the resources to do their job effectively both in and outside of work.
Just because I own the business does not mean I have the ‘power,’ the power is shared from the intern through to the managers and it focuses on ensuring that everyone’s needs are met so they are able to perform as highly as possible. Not just that though, I am hands off, there is a ton of trust in everyone to complete their job role to the best of their ability. With this there is always an underlying respect that runs through each team member as well as running through the ethos and culture of the business. It would not be strange for someone to enter the office and not know who the boss is - because everyone is the boss in my eyes.
Is it difficult to maintain? Of course, but people either suit this dynamic or do not. Have I had some team members push the boundaries? Of course, but with trust and understanding there is usually always a way to work through things together.
When one has worked in environments where ‘leader’ meant words like power, ego, fear, we flip this on its head by creating an environment where it means something completely different. A servant leader focuses on the growth and wellbeing of their people, making environments more synergised. There is no one-size-fits-all in this game of life, and having the understanding and empathy to recognize that people have different strengths is where you can really flourish with this style of management. I do not believe in Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) which is completely unheard of in a sales environment, but I threw the book out years ago when it came to classical sales strategy. If your team are happy, they are productive, the staff retention is higher, the clients feel the positive vibes too and want to work with you. Everyone is happier and most importantly - less stressed!
Servant leadership characteristics:
Authenticity – with genuine heart, caring about the people
Putting yourself in other people shoes. Whether a team member or client, sometimes people have bad days and project that negativity onto you and that is ok, once you understand this philosophy it is easier to navigate
Strong awareness and intuition. Going with your gut, reading the room, understanding individual’s needs, sensing overall mood, and acting accordingly and with integrity
Team growth, it’s not all about YOU. I learnt this early on that many people with titles love the idea of being on top, but what does that really mean? In my eyes being on top is when everyone wins
Empowering your team with new ideas, flexibility, development, and trust
Shared visions. No one forgets the people who helped them level up throughout life, if you are lucky enough to work with people who share the same vision and purpose, it could be a recipe for real success.
Brand ambassadors. Each individual then radiates quality, happiness, and greatness about your brand.
Self-work. A lot of work goes into oneself to ensure you are strong minded and empathetic daily, some people choose self-development courses, meditation, working out, retreats, travel or even spa days. Whatever your vice is, it is important to ensure you allocate time for you too. It is easy to spot these types of leaders because they are constantly evolving and working on themselves
In summary it is not something that can be changed quickly, the manager must work on themselves from the inside out. Most leaders who have this style are just naturally that way inclined. Anyone looking at working in such an environment can clearly see the characteristics. But being able to adapt and implement some of the principals of servant leadership would be a forward-thinking way of adapting your culture, creating a productive business and in turn increasing your own happiness.
Nicki Wilson is the Owner and Managing Director - Genie Recruitment