I have an epiphany – that “a-ha” moment where something strikes you, and everything makes sense. For years I have researched about leadership; read books, watched videos, and listened to thought leaders explain precisely what characteristics define an effective and efficient leader.
I have studied nearly every leadership style: the “Visionary,” “Autocratic,” “Laissez Fair,” “Pacesetter,” “Bureaucratic,” and “Transactional”. Each shares various elements with another, but they’re still unique and appropriate for different people and various situations. While I understood them, what confused me can all be summed up in a straightforward question.
WHY DO WE CONTINUE TO MAKE LEADERSHIP SO DIFFICULT TO DEFINE?
I believe there is one leadership style that encompasses the qualities and traits that serve as the foundation of any effective and efficient leader. Remember, to lead is to influence, to serve others; it’s not necessarily a singular focus on profitability while ignoring the efforts of those on the front line. I am not a Pollyanna — profitability is vital to the very existence of any business — but have I fear that we’ve lost touch with what this generation of aspiring leaders need most . . .
The only way to meet that need and be successful in the growth of others comes from one leadership style . . .
“The servant-leader is a servant first. It begins with a natural feeling that one wants to serve…as opposed wanting power, influence, fame, or wealth.”
— Robert K. Greenleaf
To make a positive impact on those you lead, an effective leader must establish trust and empathy. That leader must be authentic and sincere with a sense of gratitude toward the dedication and passion his or her subordinates exhibit. When describing a servant leader, words such as humble, self-aware, and stewardship are used. A strong servant leader takes a tremendous amount of pride in being a mentor, because they understand that their job is not to create more followers, but rather more leaders.
Most professionals develop their leadership style as a result of their personalities. That works, except those who still feel as if manipulation, ego, and guilt are acceptable. Some leaders are still stuck in management by fear approach, instead of one based on respect. There are still far too many who rely upon title, authority, and rank to call themselves a leader.
“The difference between effective and ineffective leaders is not
what they know, it is what they do.”
— Todd Whitaker
Employee attrition is an epidemic taking place that is entirely preventable. We just need to spend the appropriate amount of time training those in leadership positions to ensure they are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to lead. We pour money into elaborate training programs for our employees but fail to allocate those same resources for the people we empower to lead.
Although I say “Servant Leadership” is the most effective, I want to be precise. I also subscribe to elements of Coaching, Visionary, and Transformational leadership, as well. I do so because they are so closely aligned to servant leadership. It’s adding that element of dedicating yourself to a purpose and coming to the realization that true fulfillment comes from helping others. That is the very essence of servant leadership.
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem
of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”