How Can I Foster a Company culture of Servant Leadership and What Benefits Can I Expect?

Leadership style and company culture have a significant impact not only on the workplace atmosphere, but it influences employee productivity and engagement. Building a servant leadership culture may take time, but the benefits could be worth the effort. Not convinced? Read below about how other business owners have benefitted from fostering this type of company culture.
Ashley Cox

Ashley Cox

Ashley Cox, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Founder and CEO of SproutHR.

Establishing Servant Leadership Improves Discretionary Effort

A culture of servant leadership is key to building an engaged team that genuinely cares about your business and your customers and will put forth their best effort daily.

The amount of effort an employee gives at work directly correlates to how deeply the organization cares about and supports them.

When employees feel they are genuinely cared for and have the support of their supervisor and/or leadership team, they will put forth a greater level of effort. However, if they don’t feel cared for or supported, they will give the minimum amount of effort required to maintain their role and avoid discipline.

Discretionary effort is when an employee goes above and beyond what is expected or required of them for the benefit of the organization. To maximize the discretionary effort of your team, you must care for your employees and support them in their roles. Servant leadership is a great way to do just that. Here’s how to get started:

First, be sure to share the details of what servant leadership is and why you’ve chosen to establish this type of culture and practice in your organization. This will aid in limiting confusion and misunderstandings amongst your leadership team as you begin shifting the culture in your organization.

Next, explain what servant leadership will look like in your company. The phrase “servant leadership” is a broad, sweeping statement that can be interpreted in many different ways. It’s important to give clear examples of what it looks like, as well as what it doesn’t look like in practice in your unique organization.

Finally, regular feedback conversations are helpful to create space for your supervisors, managers, and other members of your leadership team to discuss wins and challenges they’re facing as they implement servant leadership practices within their teams. This can be as simple as one-on-one meetings where you ask: what’s working, what’s not working, and what can we do differently going forward?

Fostering the Development of a Servant Leadership Culture

All leaders are obligated to be servants to the individuals they hired. Servant leadership is established by disrupting the hierarchical status quo of traditional companies and providing a dynamic wherein all employees are seen and heard as equals. By positioning executives as coworkers instead of bosses, every individual will be focused on the task at hand, have the agency to be creative and be unafraid to share thoughts and ideas with their superiors.

Servant leadership is created by providing soft skills training to managers. Just because an employee is the best at what they do does not imply that they should automatically manage a team of individuals. Rather, they must undergo a rigorous process of soft skills training that cultivates people management. When employees know that upper management has their best personal and professional interests in mind, they are more likely to go the extra mile and contribute in any way possible.

Servant leadership is obtained through transparency. When a corporation’s culture stresses transparency– from salaries and bonuses to internal career paths, and even peer reviews–managers and entry-level employees alike are structurally able to support and help each other grow in a myriad of ways.

Through corporate transparency, soft skill training, and disrupting the status quo of a vertical hierarchy, servant leadership is obtained.

Jordan Duran

Jordan Duran

Jordan Duran, Founder, and Designer at 6 Ice LLC.
Erik Pham

Erik Pham

Erik Pham, CEO and Managing Editor of Healthcanal.

Creating a Positive Work Environment

A workplace that fosters and maintains a servant leadership culture is more likely to have a positive work environment due to the employees and managers trusting each other and having better relationships. Of course, this also means that you’ll have a more productive workplace with coworkers watching each other’s back.

Another benefit worth noting is that you’ll have a much easier time identifying the potential in your employees since a servant leadership culture empowers employees to be proactive and develop their leadership capabilities as well.

There are many ways to [lead] your organization towards a servant leadership culture.

Encourage Humility in Managers
Be humble and treat your employees like people. Managers need to understand that their subordinates are people too, and that they shouldn’t act like lords and nobles thinking that they are higher than them. Having your managers be humble can go a long way, and it will be easier to create a servant leadership culture if no one thinks they’re above other people.

Empower Your Employees
Now that your managers are treating everyone with respect, it’s time to show that your employees have the potential to do great things for your business. Encourage them to be more proactive and take the initiative. By doing this, you are not only raising their morale, but you are passively creating better quality employees with leadership skills.

This will create stronger teams and better managers in the long run.

Servant Leadership Encourages Employee Development

The major benefits of servant leadership include greater employee commitment to their roles and the company, as well as a positive work environment where everybody experiences real growth and fulfillment from their jobs.

You can establish a servant leadership culture in your firm by encouraging collaboration, caring about your employees’ personal needs, accepting corrections from your subordinates, and investing in the growth of your employees.

William Taylor

William Taylor

William Taylor is the Senior Recruitment Advisor at VelvetJobs.
Carter Seuthe

Carter Seuthe

Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit.

Employee Retention

The biggest benefit of a servant leadership approach to company culture is employee retention. At a time when more and more employees are holding out for a better deal or even looking to change careers entirely, the successful firms are the ones who can retain, train up, and maximize the effectiveness of their current employees. Servant leadership culture is an excellent way to do that.

Build Trust

You can establish servant leadership at your company through various methods. One way is to be a good listener. Be empathetic, displaying compassion to help build trust. It is good to connect with your employees emotionally.

You will reap benefits, which may include:

Because you will involve them in the decision-making process, including vital decisions, your employees will trust you. It will enhance cohesion, making them function as a set of individuals aiming to achieve a common goal.

With such loyalty, commitment and performance will be optimal. You can also rely on your employees to be your brand ambassadors, campaigning to make your company known as the best place to work.

Improved Productivity
Every employee will have a sense of belonging and take the initiative to be productive at the company. You can rely on your staff members to give you the most desired outcome. Everyone will lead in their area, benefiting the organization.

The good thing is that they do not fear failure. They will try out new ways to solve challenges, providing them with job satisfaction. A satisfied workforce is undoubtedly more productive.

Harriet Chan

Harriet Chan

Harriet Chan, Co-Founder of CocoFinder, a company engaged in software development.
Ravi Parikh

Ravi Parikh

Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass Florida Campgrounds.

Reframing Priorities and Viewpoints

Maintaining a servant leadership culture at your business can be difficult, but the payoff is huge if you succeed. One of the most important benefits of a servant leadership culture is that it keeps businesses from falling into the trap of prioritizing executive egos over the needs of the customer. It also tends to earn massive buy-in from employees.

Establishing a servant leadership culture begins with encouraging leaders to ask, ‘What can I do to help solve this most efficiently?’ and ‘How can I show up for my company today?’ rather than simply seeing delegating as the main thing they contribute to the company. It also requires leaders to [refrain from] labeling certain types of work as beneath them.

Promote Open Communication with Employees

The main benefit of servant leadership is that it builds trust, loyalty, and engagement in team members. Servant leadership is the epitome of leading by example, and the followers in this arrangement feel confident the needs of the company and team are being put first. It also empowers team members to contribute more and become in-team leaders in their own right, which creates a culture of shared responsibility for the team’s success and makes the team more adaptable.

A servant leadership culture starts with open, transparent communication between levels of the hierarchy. You can’t serve the needs of the team if you don’t know what those needs are, so there needs to be an active dialogue between team members and managers. If this isn’t something the team is used to, it may take some prodding from leadership to get employees to open up. The more employees feel their voices are heard, the more likely they’ll be to speak up.

Michael Moran

Michael Moran

Michael Moran, Owner of Green Lion Search Group.
Daivat Dholakia

Daivat Dholakia

Daivat Dholakia, Director of Operations of Force by Mojio.

Make Customer Service Central to the Company

Establishing a servant leadership culture depends on a company culture that centers first and foremost around providing excellent customer service. Servant leadership culture puts the customers at the center of a business. The high-level executives must understand that the company’s success in serving customers is directly tied to their roles as executives.

They must see themselves as a natural extension of the company’s customer service efforts. This type of mindset can be hard for some leaders to get behind. That’s why other leaders need to set good examples in their dedication to the company. Rather than set themselves above and apart from everything, the leaders in a servant leadership culture need to be in the trenches getting their hands dirty. The payback to this approach? Happy customers and happy employees.

Authority Versus Power

The idea of a servant leadership culture is that you must interact with your people to gain authority rather than power. This culture makes an organization function as a whole including all the executive leaders like me. The best way to implement this culture is to commit yourself to actively listen to your people and collaborate with them.

High Productivity Rate
Employees will see their leaders as role models and will observe proper collaboration with each other, eliminating any unproductive behavior.

Positive Work Environment
Having a servant leadership culture eliminates the toxic culture of being afraid of your boss. It creates a positive work environment because your leaders are open to anything that you say to them.

Tyler Garns

Tyler Garns

Tyler Garns, Founder, and CEO at Box Out Marketing.
Martin Luenendonk

Martin Luenendonk

Martin Luenendonk, Chief Executive Officer at FounderJar.

Placing Employees First

As a business owner, I believe [servant leadership] is essential, and there are benefits in establishing this culture. That’s why I prioritize fulfilling the employee’s needs first.

Reduce Turnover Rates
Servant leadership culture helps leaders to understand the causes of [employee] turnover. Therefore, they can foster union to eliminate toxicity within the workplace.

Positive Workplace Culture
Servant leadership culture [fosters] a relationship between leaders and employees. It [encourages] team collaboration and higher productivity.

Actively Listen

One of the keys to establishing and cultivating a servant leadership culture is simply to listen – active listening. Listen to direct reports, bosses, peers, and customers. [Listen] to what they are saying and not saying. Ask open-ended questions such as “Tell me more about that perspective?” or “What’s one thing we’re not doing?” By fostering a culture of true listening you’re not just fostering a culture of servant leadership, but at its core, you’re building the key to successful leadership: trust.

Steven R. Yacovelli

Steven R. Yacovelli

Sam Dolbel

Sam Dolbel

Sam Dolbel, Co-Founder and CEO of SINC Workforce.

Show Appreciation for Employee Contributions

When a servant leader works with everyone on the team, everyone feels a sense of belonging and motivation because they have worked together with the support of their superiors. This is beneficial to the overall company culture. It motivates employees to do their best because they know their efforts are valued. Their contributions are recognized and appreciated by their leader, who inspires them to develop and work things out with them.

As a servant leader, you must promote the development of your employees. Take an interest in the team’s individual development. Work things out with them and create opportunities for them to grow through coaching and constant feedback.

Servant Leadership Culture Within a Company

Probably the biggest benefit of maintaining a servant leadership culture is stronger teams with better collaboration, which results in a more positive work environment. There is a high level of employee commitment, trust, and loyalty, supporting a culture of belonging.

Servant leadership culture accelerates learning and development, furthering employee growth. If you’re looking to establish servant leadership culture at your organization, start by outlining a clear vision with values and internal goals.

When your employees are aware of what you expect of them, they will be able to meet objectives. Be sure to source feedback from them now and then, so you know you’re not only driving your employees towards success but are doing so through establishing strong lines of trust.

Mentor aspiring servant leaders. Whoever is willing to learn, teach them, and help them flourish by facilitating their growth through training and meetings. To further strengthen your organization’s culture, look at it from the outside as a third party. This [perspective] will help clear up a lot of confusion in establishing a new leadership culture at your organization.

Austin Dowse

Austin Dowse

Dr. Austin Dowse, CEO of Aimvein.
Simon Elkjær

Simon Elkjær

Simon Elkjær, Chief Marketing Officer at avXperten.

Prioritizing The Workforce’s Needs and Well-being

Servant leadership is about encouraging and empowering the positive growth of one’s workforce. The main benefit that comes with servant leadership is that this principle allows companies to focus on and prioritize their workforce’s needs and well-being. With it, companies can go beyond the basics such as providing teams with the right tools, equipment and implement even longer-lasting changes and improvements that allow you to take a more holistic approach towards company growth.

To implement servant leadership in your company, you must first make sure that your leaders live by example and that they truly value their workforce’s input. The right combination of empathy, understanding, research, and data will help you come up with the right policies and programs that are geared towards your workforce’s growth and your company’s success.

Value Employee Opinions

Servant leadership culture helps an organization function as one, which will unlock everyone’s creativity. Moreover, when the leader leads a team by being one with them, it is easier for them to connect comfortably, making them more confident in giving their thoughts and opinions that can help a firm expand more.

What we do in our organization is value our employees’ opinions. They are more eager to come up with fantastic ideas that will help the entire team succeed if they know how important their contributions are.

Jake Babbitt

Jake Babbitt, Founder of Classic Roof Replacement.

Jeff De Maio

Jeff De Maio, Founder at Storm Guard of Fort Collins.

Set a Selfless Example

Servant leaders are selfless leaders. They put the welfare of their team before themselves and ensure that everyone is included and not left behind. Furthermore, a company with a servant leadership culture has more loyal employees and a cohesive work culture, which helps increase the company’s overall productivity.

In our company, we practice servant leadership culture by setting a good example. We ensure that our leaders exemplify servant leadership culture, so the team notices and follows. Moreover, we as leaders are more cautious of what we do daily because we know that all eyes are always on us, even without saying anything.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.