As an executive coach, I’ve seen all kinds of leadership styles. Effective leadership is essential to every organisation—big or small, young or old.

We know from Harvard’s research on the Service-Profit-Chain and our Scores on the Board system(tm), that employee satisfaction brings revenue--when your employees are happy, your customers are happy, and that means more revenue for your business. But the message is often lost when time and resources are limited, many leaders fall under the pressure to make ends meet.

One of the great models on leadership is Robert K. Greenleaf’s idea of the Servant-Leader. Now in its fourth decade, the Servant Leader Model has created a revolution in workplaces around the world. During the era of the Industrial Revolution, managers tended to think of their employees as mere tools or cogs in the greater organisational machine.

The problem is no one enjoys feeling like a cog in a machine. So, Greenleaf proposed that leaders should focus on building teamwork, community, and personal growth, instead of relying on the old, hierarchical idea of leadership.

What Is Servant-Leadership?
A “Servant-Leader” describes a leader who is first a servant to others and whose primary motivation is rooted in encouraging the people around them to constantly improve in an autonomous way.

As Greenleaf writes in “The Servant as Leader”: “The best test [of a servant leader] is: Do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

The characteristics of a Servant-Leader are ultimately something we should all strive for--whether you’re looking to improve your leadership skills or want to be a more productive and better person.

So, what are the Characteristics of the Servant-Leader?
These skills are essential to being a Servant-Leader. Understanding and implementing these characteristics and will not only improve your leadership abilities, but they will also improve your personal relationships.

1.Listening: Servant-leaders actively listen and reflect to understand the group’s needs. Listening, coupled with regular reflection, is critical to clearly identify their team’s needs.

2.Empathy: Servant-leaders have a strong understanding of the feelings of those around them. They understand that every employ needs recognition and appreciation for their achievements.

3.Healing: Servant-leaders recognise that, as a person, they have an opportunity to improve the world and the people around them.

4.Awareness: Overall and self awareness helps leaders focus on the needs of others, giving them the ability to take a more holistic leadership perspective.An efficient way to ensure you are aware of your businesses needs is through 360 degree feedback. 360 degree surveys allow for a better understanding of organisational strengths, opportunities and problem areas. This helpful, free downloadable report demonstrates the strengths of 360 degree feedback, as well as the 5 survey mistakes to avoid.

5.Persuasion: Older forms of leadership leaders tended to rely on coercion instead of persuasion. The servant-leader builds consensus within groups through effective, persuasive communication, not manipulation or fear.

6.Conceptualisation: Servant-leaders are able to step back from day-to-day activities and take an innovative, big-picture perspective to organisational issues. This helps them focus on the ultimate cause of the problem, and not just the symptoms.

7.Foresight: The ability to learn from the past is a critical to predicting future consequences.

8.Stewardship: Stewardship means that servant-leaders care not only for the institution, but also for the individuals that make up the institution.

9.Commitment to the growth: Servant-leaders understand that improving an organisation starts with developing the people that make up that organisation.

10.Building community: Servant-leaders strive to create a work environment that encourages collaboration and shared-ownership. Giving employees a stake in the organisation’s future increases their engagement, productivity and success.

Why You Should Become a Servant-Leader
Servant-Leadership is ultimately a long-term, transformational approach to life and work.
Using The Servant Leader Model for your organisation isn’t just a way to make your employees feel better, but it makes you a more engaged and capable leader.

And this leadership model doesn’t only apply to a specific kind of organisation. The behavioural patterns of servant-leaders work for all organisation types, and helps promote economic efficiency. Servant-leaders are excellent listeners. And when leaders have a sound understanding of their employees needs they get good, quality work from their employees.

Author's Bio: 

Bill Lang is an educational entrepreneur (and an entrepreneur educator), author, coach and consultant. As Principal of Human Performance Company, Bill helps businesses and individuals worldwide improve their performance and achieve their goals faster.– business, performance and personal improvement solutions