Servant Leadership

Embracing Servant Leadership: A Pathway to Sustainable Success in Business

In Customer Resources, Strategy Resources by Brandt A. HandleyLeave a Comment

In the fast-paced world of leadership, where ambition often reigns supreme, “old-fashioned” virtues might seem to be left behind. However, these virtues are the foundation upon which many great leaders build their leadership!

In this article series, we’ll dive into these values and where they fit into modern leadership.

Amidst the noise of profit margins and stock prices, a quieter, yet more profound narrative emerges—one of servant leadership. This ethos, rooted in the philosophy of serving others first, not only fosters a culture of empathy and collaboration but also yields sustainable success that transcends mere financial gains.

Servant Leadership as a Success Strategy
Cheryl Bachelder is a servant leader and author whose philosophy was put to the test when she was brought in to lead a struggling Popeye’s. “We were given the opportunity to use these principles, but we were expected to perform just like any other public company. What our team is proudest of is not the facts of our success–everybody raves that the stock went from $12 to $79. That’s cool. But it was how we did it and I think was the story worth telling. We made our franchise owners the center of every decision we made from that day forward. We serve them well. And they made a ton of money and their families thrived. And it’s the proudest thing on my resume–what happened to those families was the proudest accomplishment of my career.”

Here, the emphasis on serving stakeholders lays the foundation for remarkable growth and prosperity. It’s not just about the bottom line but about the lives touched and families thriving—a testament to the enduring impact of servant leadership.

Knowledge and Skills to Help Others
The essence of servant leadership extends beyond business dealings into personal convictions. As one individual reflects on their journey, they highlight the symbiotic relationship between knowledge and service. Kelvin Cochran, Senior Fellow & Vice President of Alliance Defending Freedom, notes, “As a believer, growing up and being discipled and going to discipleship through those years, I learned that the more we know, the greater our capacity to serve, and it really drove my desire for higher education. I never wanted to advance in higher education just for the sake of having a resume that was very decorated and bragging rights about the degrees. It was all motivated by the fact that the more knowledge you have, the greater your capacity to serve.”

This perspective underscores the intrinsic link between education and altruism, where knowledge becomes a tool for uplifting others rather than a pedestal for self-aggrandizement.

John Temple, the CEO of Guideposts, started his career as an attorney based upon his desire to make the world better and serve where he was most useful. “The law can be used for for good and bad, like anything, so I wanted to be one of the good ones and wanted to be somebody who try to use that skills for to to help others.” This commitment to using one’s skills for the greater good exemplifies the ethos of servant leadership, where professions become platforms for positive impact.

Culture of Character
Moreover, the importance of character shines through in recruitment practices. Beyond assessing skill sets, many organizations seek individuals. In her interview, Joan Maxwell, President of Regulator Marine, called out a specific employee as an example when asked what they look for in new hires: “In our customer service area, we have an incredible guy who’s head of that department and now has what I call the heart of a service, because whatever it is, he’s going to jump in and help and that lives in every aspect of his life.” This holistic approach to talent acquisition ensures that the ethos of servant leadership remains ingrained within the organizational DNA.

At its core, servant leadership challenges traditional paradigms of hierarchical power dynamics, replacing them with a culture of empowerment and collaboration. It’s about leaders rolling up their sleeves alongside their teams, embodying a “heart of service” that transcends job titles and organizational boundaries.

Servant leadership offers a blueprint for businesses to thrive ethically and sustainably. By prioritizing the needs of others and fostering a culture of empathy and collaboration, organizations can achieve not only financial success but also leave a lasting legacy of positive impact—a legacy where the proudest accomplishments lie not in numbers on a balance sheet but in the lives touched and communities uplifted.

For more faith-based learnings from successful CEOs, check out ROI’s Into the Corner Office podcast

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