What exactly is servant leadership? Does it work? Can you be a servant leader and still be profitable? The answers to these questions are pretty simple: a leadership style, yes, and yes. All joking aside, here is the lowdown on these questions. Servant leadership is style of leadership that puts people before process. It's a style that focuses on developing people which requires several specific characteristics: empathy, listening, healing, foresight, and stewardship, to name few. With these skills, and a desire to develop people, a leader can have a major impact on people and on the business. How big an impact on the business? Let's look at some data.
A recent study (Giolito, 2019) of 55 similar stores of one company were looked at. In general, within this company, the average growth of stores was negative. Yet of the 22 stores that were profitable, 18 had leaders who scored above average on servant leadership characteristics.
The following graphic shows some common leadership challenges and what can happen when they aren’t dealt with. Luckily, servant leaders are able to overcome these challenges so that that ultimate leadership failure – increased turnover – never happens:
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