Servant-Leadership: Making Teams Great Through Great Managers

“Companies with Servant Leadership as a cornerstone of their business model perform more than 2x as well as other companies” — Dr. James Sipe and Dr. Don Frick, Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership.

Mark Lipscomb from 23AndMe and Erin Faverty from PeopleTech Partners spoke on a panel, “Servant-Leadership: Making Teams Great Through Great Managers,” at Reflektive’s Illuminate conference by people leaders, for people leaders.

“Servant” and “leadership” may conjure up contradictory ideas, but together, it’s simply a mindset of putting your team before yourself. Servant leadership, also known as “Level 5 Leadership,” encourages managers to take themselves out of the equation, check their ego at the door, and view an empowered and supported team as the most powerful team.

Servant leadership comes down to the core value system that advises how and why a leader acts, reacts, and makes decisions to support his or her team.

SEE ALSO: The Executive’s Guide to People Insights

You can identify and leverage servant leaders within your organization by looking for those who practice the following: 

  • Flip the organizational chart, putting themselves at the bottom of the pyramid as someone serving those above
  • Focus on purpose — the “why” behind a project, initiative, or company focus
  • Celebrate successes of others often
  • Habitually use “we,” “us,” and “team” when describing achievements
  • Ask questions when addressing or digging into issues
  • Show empathy and understand that behind every data point is a human being
  • Excel at identifying core roadblocks impacting teams/individuals and prioritizing solving challenges limiting even the most junior employees
  • Have very loyal team members, attract team members from other departments, or have team members who follow them from other companies

Creating servant leaders in your company comes down to who you recognize, what actions are being rewarded on a daily basis, and how your performance review process measures managers.

One thing to look out for: “People tend to misinterpret personal communication styles as leadership approaches,” said Faverty. “Often ineffective leaders continue to lead because their approaches are deemed just a part of their personal leadership style.”

See more from Illuminate here.