According to the results of the questionnaire, my personal servant leadership philosophy revolves largely around conceptual skills, ethics in business and working practices. Another important part is the empowerment of the employees in order to help them do their duties and solve problems on their own rather than ask the manager for approval on every situation (Northouse, 2016). The more empathetic parts of servant leadership such as emotions, values of the community, helping others grow and succeed, and putting followers first were rated moderate. The results of the test were both predictable and surprising at the same time.
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They were predictable in that I was able to determine the connection between the questions and the qualities before even looking at the grading rubric. However, my estimations were not completely accurate. I expected the empowerment score to be equal to that of helping others grow. In my opinion, allowing the employees to solve tasks on their own, to take responsibility, and to practice autonomy is what allows them to grow as professionals in their fields. It is what makes leaders out of them, rather than obedient followers. In truth, it could be said that such an approach not only helps them grow but also motivates their career growth, as employees who are capable of making decisions on their own and taking responsibility deserve to be promoted to higher positions (Northouse, 2016).
While I stand firmly by these principles, I believe that this test showed me that there is room for improvement. I must work on forming meaningful emotional attachments with employees and customers and on not being blind to their emotional needs and requests. According to Keith (2009), being able to identify and meet the needs of colleagues and customers is a very important skill in servant leadership. In many cases, the needs of both customers and employees are not strictly defined by the physical needs.
For example, many retail stores nowadays offer the same selection of products for the customers to choose from, with prices being approximately the same as well. What matters to the customer is the quality of service, the appearance of the establishment, the friendliness of the employees and the agreeableness of the management staff. All of these factors are closely related to servant leadership and with emotional awareness as well. In order to be an effective leader, I will need to exercise these qualities.
While my leadership style has an emphasis on empowerment and employee development, it is considered a rather controversial approach by some researchers. Hunter et al. (2013), in their research of servant leadership in regards to the antecedents and outcomes for the employees and organizations have discovered that if the manager is willing to assist their underlings whenever they require help, they will motivate the employees to do so in turn and provide help to one another, following the manager as a role model.
The result, according to their research, is increased unit cohesion and strengthening of the bonds between the manager and the employees. While I do not deny that adopting a practice of mutual assistance would improve the organization and likely increase the production output, I believe that it is detrimental to the employees in the long run. Even in the best of organizations, employee turnover is unavoidable – some employees will quit their job for one reason or another – be it better pay, migration, or other reasons.
If an employee is raised in a company that practices covering for one another, he or she may struggle when moving to a company that does not do so. On the other hand, if every employee is used to taking on responsibility and making the hard decisions on their own, they are more likely to survive in a similar competitive environment. At the same time, the increased responsibility and autonomy is also going to provide better results for the company as a whole.
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Hunter, E. M., Neubert, M. J., Perry, S. J., Witt, L. A., Penney, L. M., & Weinberger, E. (2013). Servant leaders inspire servant leaders: Antecedents and outcomes for employees and the organization. The Leadership Quarterly, 24(2), 316–331.
Keith, K. (2009). Servant leaders. Leadership Excellence, 26(5), 18–19.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage Publications.