Servant Leadership – Researched Social Influence

Leadership is said to be one of the most widely researched social influence processes in the behavioral sciences probably because the success of all organizations depends on how effective and efficient their leaders are (Parris & Peachey, 2012). One of the most renowned and studied leadership theories is that of servant leadership. Robert Greenleaf is credited for creating the theory defined as servant leadership that emphasizes the concept that leaders should be servants first to those who are thought to serve them and identifies that organizations are supposed to create people who can build a better tomorrow (Parris & Peachey, 2012) by becoming effective leaders themselves. Over the years, the characteristics that have been branded as representing this theory include listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. Simply stated, Greenleaf wanted leaders to be servants first and foremost and leaders second. Compatibility with Other Theories and Beliefs

There are those leaders that feel the concept of servant leadership is compatible with most other theories and could be argued as such when compared to Robert House’s “path-goal” theory. This leadership theory reflects that effective leaders clearly establish how employees, or those said to follow, can attain goals and help their progress along the way by removing barriers and providing rewards (Wiley, 2011). The similarity between the two theories can also be seen through supportive measures leaders are to take to ensure that employees are well cared for and treated equally. Goals and continuous performance measures are set and encouragement is given to boost confidence and motivate individuals to meet these measures. Goal setting and providing feedback allows individuals to grow within their own positions and instills leadership qualities and behaviors within those that will become the next generation of leaders.

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Others relate Greenleaf’s characteristics to religious beliefs. Take for example the Four Nobel Truths of the Buddhism religion, which are Suffering, the Causes of Suffering, the Cessation of Suffering and the Path to Cessation of Suffering and the eightfold path of the Buddha that suggests how to attain Nirvana or liberation (Muthamil & Veerapandian, 2013). Both concepts can be compared to servant leadership through based on beliefs that individuals should live with unbiased views, determinations, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, and concentration that in essence is Greenleaf’s concept of servant leadership to make the world and its people better by serving them as leaders. Although the theory is mostly used in the business world, some believe it should be taken a step further in applying it religiously where the servant leader lessens sins from their own lives and constructively focuses on others. Attributes of a Servant Leader

An attribute of a true servant leader is someone who develops other leaders and “thinks you, not me” (Prichards, 2013). The progression of developing future leaders is prevalent within the organization that I have been part of for the past 16 years through a process called “talent mapping”. This activity occurs at the same time each year where each leader completes a self-evaluation and provides critical insight to the person that manages them related to areas each believes they have room to grow and improve upon. I recently completed mine and identified growth opportunities in the areas of ability to influence others and strategic thinking. Each leader then meets with the person to whom they directly report to in order to develop a strategic self-growth plan to focus on over the next year. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the person to whom I directly report who happens to be the Chief Executive Officer. This gave both of us the opportunity to collaborate and identify the area of growth that should be my primary focus and would ultimately benefit me the most as a leader and would expand my capabilities.

When my CEO described the process it was overwhelmingly clear that it was about development prospects for me and not her. Being in the position of CEO, she was able to provide a great amount of insight, feedback and ideas on how I could take my leadership to the next level. I equate this to the expert power base that is the ability to influence someone else’s performance through knowledge, experience, or judgment the other person doesn’t have but needs (Wiley, 2011). The second part of the process begins mid-year and is called “recalibration” that involves extended input from the entire c-suite team on individual growth plans and progress. This part of the process brings into the mix the overall facility and system strategic initiatives whereby it is ensured that all leaders are moving in the same direction and towards the same vision. Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness

The concept of emotional intelligence includes self-awareness of predilections, state of mind, resources and insight and is key to success both in personal and organizational performance. The ability for one to have increased self-awareness enables individuals to make different choices and to modify behavior that in turn allows us as leaders to benefit more from those who we work with and for. Communication becomes more effective and creativity, innovation and forward thinking intensifies. This enables leaders to empower their direct reports to be accountable for their own issues and thinking outside the box thereby allowing them to grow personally and professionally as well. The art of leadership influences leaders and employees of an organization to work towards common goals and includes crafting a shared vision and strategies to achieve that vision in addition to leading their organizations into new innovative directions. Servant leadership is a widely acceptable theory and one that has been studied by many since established by Robert Greenleaf.

Many find it valuable as a tool at the individual and organizational level and use it to help lead to improved efficiency and success of teams and individuals. Studies have found that trust, behavior, collaboration and effectiveness are enhanced in organizations that utilize the servant leadership model (Parris & Peachey, 2012). This influences a positive work environment and outcomes and increases commitment to the organization that in turn decreases turnover.

Muthamil, R., & Veerapandian, S. (2013, January). The Philosophy OF Buddha and Buddhism: A Relook in the Doctrinal Extension. Indian Streams Research Jounal , 2. Parris, D. L., & Peachey, J. W. (2012, April 22). A Systematic
Literature Review of Servant Leadership Theory in Organizational Contexts. Journal of Business Ethics , 378; 386-388. Prichards, S. (2013, January 24). 9 Qualities of the Servant Leader. Retrieved July 1, 2013, from SKIPPRICHARD Leadership Insights: Wiley, J. (2011). Leading – To Inspire Effort. In J. Wiley, Organizational Behavior and Management (p. 231). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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