When employees are well led, they have a higher engagement level and ultimately their companies have greater chances of succeeding. Yet, great leadership - the ability to regularly bring out the best in people - is a rare commodity in most business settings. Stories of leadership abuse are widespread in the news media and these stories are validated by personal experience. Most of us have worked with leaders who were in it only for themselves.
Servant First Leadership is a very different approach from what many of us have experienced. Instead of leadership based on position, power and control, it emphasizes collaboration, trust, listening and character. It requires truth-telling and ethical decision making. It asks leaders to place importance upon the life goals of the people they lead and to consider their role in helping them achieve those goals. It emphasizes the need to serve employees through a collection of skills rarely practiced in the business world - listening, empathy, community-building and commitment. The leader becomes a servant first. He leads not because of the desire for increased power, but because he wants to help those around him reach new heights. The ultimate result of Servant First Leadership in the workplace is a workforce that is truly motivated and engaged -the best asset any business could have.
The principles of Servant First Leadership are ancient, and have been practiced by great leaders throughout history. More recently, these principles were articulated by Robert Greenleaf and first termed "Servant Leadership" in his essay, The Servant as Leader (1970).
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