In recent years, the business world has seen a shift in how leaders view and conduct themselves. In particular, there has been a move away from the more traditional, top-down leadership style in favor of a more collaborative and service-oriented approach known as servant leadership.
One CEO successfully utilizing this type of leadership is Richard Yu, a highly-sought business coach and social media entrepreneur. Yu’s focus on high-performance and faith has helped hundreds mold their companies around the servant leadership philosophy.
So what exactly is servant leadership, and how can you use it to create a high-performance business? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Servant Leadership?
The term “servant leadership” was first coined in 1970 by Robert K. Greenleaf. in his essay “The Servant as Leader.” Greenleaf argues the servant-leader is a person who focuses on the needs and development of others rather than on personal gain. This type of leader puts the needs of their team above their own and works to create an environment where everyone can succeed.
Servant leadership and faith
Servant leadership is often closely associated with faith because it is based on the belief that we are all here to serve a higher purpose. For Richard Yu, servant leadership is more than just a business philosophy – it’s also a way of life. He sees servant leadership as an extension of his faith to be practiced in and out of the workplace.
Servant leaders throughout history
While “servant leadership” is relatively new, the concept itself is not. Many servant leaders have existed throughout history, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Mahatma Gandhi was a renowned freedom fighter and leader of the Indian independence movement. He is best known for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance, which he developed and practiced during the struggle for Indian independence.
Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid activist, politician, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. After spending 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid, he became president and worked to rebuild the country’s economy and create a more equitable society.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American civil rights activist who led the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for his role in ending segregation and discrimination against African Americans through peaceful protests and civil disobedience.
While servant leadership is often associated with faith, it is not limited to religious organizations. Many secular companies have embraced the philosophy and are reaping the benefits.
One such company is Zappos, an online retailer known for its fantastic customer service. The company’s founder and CEO, Tony Hsieh, is a strong advocate of servant leadership and has built the company around this philosophy. As a result, Zappos has become one of the most successful online retailers in the world, with annual revenue of over $2 billion.
Southwest Airlines has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s best airlines, primarily due to its commitment to customer service. The company’s CEO, Gary Kelly, is a firm believer in servant leadership and has instilled this philosophy in all levels of the organization.
As a result, Southwest Airlines has some of the best customer service statistics in the airline industry. For example, the company has a customer satisfaction rating of over 95% and is consistently ranked as one of the most affordable airlines.
Balfour Beauty is a cosmetics company quickly gaining popularity for its ethical and sustainable practices. Balfour Beauty’s commitment to servant leadership is evident in its sustainable business practices. For example, the company uses recycled materials for its packaging, sources its ingredients from fair trade suppliers, and gives back to the community through charitable initiatives.
The Container Store
The Container Store is another company that puts servant leadership into practice. As a result, The Container Store has been consistently ranked as one of the best places to work in the United States. Some of the company’s employee-friendly policies include flexible work hours, unlimited paid vacation, and a Tuition Reimbursement Program.
Marriott International is a global hospitality company with over 7,000 properties in 130 countries. Some of the company’s awards and recognitions include being named to Fortune magazine’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies and being ranked as one of the top 10 best companies to work for by Glassdoor.
Starbucks is a global coffeehouse chain with over 28,000 locations in 76 countries. The company is well-known for its commitment to social responsibility, including initiatives like fair trade coffee sourcing and providing health insurance to part-time employees.
How to add servant leadership to your company
Servant leadership is a philosophy that can be adopted by any organization, regardless of size or industry. If you’re interested in adding servant leadership to your company, there are a few things you can do to get started:
Define what servant leadership means to your company.
This essential first step will help you determine what policies and practices need to be implemented to support a servant leadership culture. Some questions you may want to consider include: What are our company’s core values? How can we best serve our employees, customers, and community? What are some specific ways we can
Train your employees in the principles of servant leadership.
Once you clearly understand what servant leadership means to your company, you can start training your employees in the principles of the philosophy. Many resources are available to help with this, including books, articles, and online courses. Some topics to cover are communication, empathy, accountability, and trust.
Encourage your employees to put servant leadership into practice.
Remind your employees that they can practice servant leadership in their everyday work, whether interacting with customers or collaborating with colleagues. Encourage them to be aware of opportunities to serve and take advantage of them when they arise.
Reward and recognize employees who embody the philosophy.
Recognizing and rewarding employees who serve as exemplary leaders will encourage others to do the same and help create a servant leadership culture in your company. Some ways you can do this include giving public praise, awarding bonuses, and offering other perks and benefits.
Servant leadership is a philosophy that can be adopted by any organization, regardless of size or industry. Doing so will not only benefit your employees, customers, and community, but it will also help create a high-performance business. CEOs like Richard Yu are utilizing servant leadership to achieve such companies, and so can you.