The Key to Building High-Performing Teams and Successful Companies
by Jeff Herzog, President, FPC National
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” ~ Jack Welch
Servant leadership is a people-centered management philosophy that focuses on the needs of employees. It is a stark contrast from the authoritarian leadership approach that has been so prevalent among American companies for many generations.
Servant leaders focus on supporting, enabling, and enhancing the performance of employees by providing the tools, knowledge, resources, and freedom to reach their goals. They prioritize the objectives of employees above their own.
At FPC, this employee-focused style of leadership aligns perfectly with our business model and our mantra: It’s all about the people. We believe that the key to business success lies in demonstrating a deep respect for employees, and recognizing that they are the primary drivers of growth.
Why Servant Leadership?
“It is a shame that so many leaders spend their time pondering their rights as leaders instead of their awesome responsibilities as leaders.” ~ James C. Hunter
Like many successful models in business, servant leadership works because it is a win-win proposition. Not only do employees benefit, but so does the company. The advantages of a servant leadership philosophy are profound and long-term; they promote the sustained growth and success of the company. Here’s why:
- When employees feel valued, they are more productive, creative, and dedicated to the company mission. They do not cut corners, sweep problems under the rug, or watch the clock, anxiously counting the ticks until 5:00. People contribute because they want to, not because their jobs are on the line.
- When given the freedom to make decisions, openly exercise their creativity, and receive full credit for their results, people step up and take full ownership of their roles. They are personally invested in their goals and the outcomes they produce.
- When employees are happy and take pride in their work, customer service improves. Interactions between staff members and the public are friendlier and more genuine. Even employees who are not in public-facing roles play a part in increasing customer satisfaction by aiming for operational excellence.
The bottom line: It really is “all about the people.” Leaders who genuinely appreciate the efforts of others, treat their employees like valued contributors, and concentrate their efforts on serving and supporting others, are creating an environment that puts people first. This is the secret ingredient to building a successful company.
How Do You Become a Servant Leader?
If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you. ~ Bishop Dale C. Bronner
The are many paths to becoming a servant leader. The most important step is adjusting your mindset and breaking free of habits that have been developed and reinforced over years or even decades. Here are a few qualities that servant leaders exhibit.
A servant leader:
- Listens more than dictates. Servant leaders are genuinely interested in the feedback of team members. They encourage inclusion and participation, welcome differing opinions, and promote constructive debate over the best paths to achieve core objectives. This fosters independent thought and diversity.
- Persuades rather than commands. Making meaningful, sustainable change requires consensus building and buy-in among those who are impacted. Servant leaders help employees work through the process to see the logic and benefits of proposed changes. This builds team unity and collaboration.
- Champions trust over micromanagement. Servant leaders give employees the space and freedom to experiment, take measured risks, and learn from mistakes. They trust the capabilities of staff members and value their talents. They do not watch over employees’ shoulders and dictate actions; instead, they state a goal and let employees create their own road-maps to get the job done. This leads to increased employee confidence, fulfillment, job satisfaction, and retention.
In today’s tight job market, companies are seeking ways to attract and retain top talent. Implementing a people-first culture and a servant-leadership approach goes a long way to build a loyal, productive, and happy workforce.
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