I recently was asked to speak on a panel about Servant Leadership for SmartCEO. Servant Leadership is a “servant-first” philosophy made popular by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s. This theory basically states that a leader should focus more on the people who are being led, than on the needs of the person in the leadership role. In business, it means that a company leader lets go of self-importance for the greater good of the organization and its employees.
One of the staples of servant leadership is communication. Without clear communication, employees lack the guidance and direction they need to grow as productive team members within the business. Most companies who struggle with communication do so not because the employees are bad, but because they haven’t been taught how to properly engage with one another. If communication skills are not part of new hire training, it holds back the people, and the company, from reaching their potential.
Many servant leaders understand that communication is much more than talking. It is about setting goals, helping people truly grasp what is expected of them and more importantly; why. Very often employees need to understand how they will be measured. Are there performance reviews? How is the employee doing? What are they doing and what do they need to improve on? Clearly communicated expectations help the employee define and embrace their role within the company.
It also opens the opportunity for employee to share ideas and suggestions. Very often the lack of communication results in a lack of understanding of your staff’s potential, and how they can help you, the leader, to achieve your goals. Many employees have great concepts that could help save the company money, grow revenue and/or boost customer engagement. Without open and clear communication, a leader remains unaware of an employee’s abilities and therefore cannot properly encourage and motivate them.
Servant leaders have learned that if you really want to build relationships with your employees, you must learn how to communicate effectively. By serving your employees and creating an environment of open and clear communication—either through training or regular employee reviews—you encourage a more efficient, engaged and productive workplace. Unleashing employee talent will not only help them reach their goals, but help your company reach its goals as well.
by Gary Pudles, CEO and President of AnswerNet