Servant Leaders Engage Through Influence, not Power

Our Waggl Wellspring series shares trends in workplace engagement and wellbeing. Sources include academic and industry researchers, visionaries and neuroscientists. This first Waggl Wellspring focuses on the influence of servant leaders.

The Servant Leadership movement began in 1970, and now it is a roadmap for improving employee experience. The quotes below outline the what, how and why of servant leadership, with direct links to each source.

Firstly, What is Servant Leadership?

  • It’s the best investment a business can make…Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.[1]
  • Humility and servant leadership do not imply that leaders have low self-esteem, or take on an attitude of servility. Instead, it emphasizes that the responsibility of a leader is to increase the ownership, autonomy, and responsibility of followers.[2]

Secondly, How Does a Servant Leader Lead?

  • Servant leaders have the humility, courage, and insight to admit that they can benefit from the expertise of others who have less power than them. Therefore, they actively seek the ideas and unique contributions of the employees that they serve.[3]
  • Meaningful and authentic dialogue is an essential competency for effective servant leaders.[4] 

And Lastly, Why are Servant Leaders Essential Today?

  • Company performance, as measured by return on assets, was higher in companies led by CEOs who engaged in servant leadership.[5]
  • Servant leadership and employee satisfaction are strongly correlated. In addition, it has a significant correlation between intrinsic satisfaction and Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare (HCAHPS) scores.[6]
  • A core servant leadership philosophy will provide critical guideposts to help you manage in real time…A serving mindset will keep you out of the reactive and self-protective patterns that can impede your success.[7]
  • Granted, “servant” doesn’t sound nearly as powerful as “boss,” but it has the potential to deliver far more of what most of us are really after: influence.[8]

Similarly, the 2020 Gallup report ties the 35% boost in engagement to the shifting role of managers from “boss to coach”.[9] In short, this resurgence of servant leadership is clearly paying off!

Learn how activating Employee Voice empowers servant leaders.

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