Servant leadership is at the core of who we are at Crawford Landscaping and it serves as a key component of our leadership model. In short, a servant leader views others as more important than themselves. That's not to say that the servant leader has a negative opinion of themselves and as a result values others as more important; rather they have an appropriate opinion of themselves that their self-worth isn't determined by self-accomplishment, thus freeing them to be about "team" accomplishment. And people follow leaders who genuinely care about them and their success. That's servant leadership.
"The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant." - Max de Pree
Key attributes or characteristics of Servant Leaders (A):
Listening: The servant leader listens receptively to what is said, and also to what is unsaid, through intuition developed by periods of reflection and analysis.
Empathy: The servant leader listens with empathy, and assumes the good intentions of co-workers and colleagues even while disagreeing.
Consensus Builder: The servant leader seeks to convince others and build a consensus instead of coercing compliance through an authoritarian style of functioning.
Stewardship: Stewardship is holding something in trust for another, and the servant leader considers himself or herself as a steward of the institution that employs him or her and the people under their charge.
Growth: Servant leaders are committed to the overall growth of people under them and other issues related to human resources. They believe that people have intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers. The servant leader assumes responsibility of not just developing the subordinate to fulfill organizational goals, but also nurture the personal and professional growth of team members by taking a personal interest in their ideas and suggestions, encouraging their involvement in decision making and through other similar interventions.
Calling: Servant leaders have a natural desire to serve others. This notion of having a calling to serve is deeply rooted and values-based. The servant leaders desire to make a difference for others within the organization and will pursue opportunities to make a difference and to impact the lives of employees, the organization and the community—never for their own gain.
Delegates: Transfers as much authority as possible to the followers, enabling them to make their own decisions in as many areas as is possible.
If you can identify with many of the attributes above, then consider yourself a servant leader. Fortunately many at Crawford are servant leaders, and many of you reading this are like "yah, that describes me!" If that's the case, then keep up the good work. If you struggle in some of the areas listed above, make it a goal to study and learn as much as you can about servant leadership and add it to your leadership arsenal. There's a book written by Art Barter on servant leadership that I understand is good, though I've never read it: It's called The Servant Leadership Journal: An 18 Week Journey to Transform You and Your Organization. It can be found here at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/%20099867110X/leaderinsigh-20
A final note on steward leadership. Most people in leadership positions have no interest in servant leadership - why? Because they've been taught to take care of #1 first - and why is that? Because in most organizations promotions, raises, and bonuses are determined by personal accomplishments, while team accomplishments or the accomplishments of subordinates aren't recognized as being the result of leadership. In other words, if you want to stand out in most organizations, you better work hard to do something that separates you from others; you have to make things about you and you must get recognized.
At Crawford, we do our best to reward servant leadership - our Leaders are evaluated on their ability to lead others. Being a good leader at Crawford involves developing and growing your team, and the success that team enjoys is viewed as the work of the leader. So go on leading this way and don't worry about getting noticed for your personal accomplishments (they will be recognized too!). But see to it that your team succeeds, and the rest will take care of itself.