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What is servant leadership? Why this principle matters

Scott Riddle | Jan 28, 2020

Think about someone you’ve worked for or with whom you respected and willingly followed. What were some of their qualities? Maybe they were a good listener or went out of their way to help solve a problem. Whatever you admired about them, chances are they were a servant leader. Not only were they good at their job, but they cared about their job, other people, and you.

At Walker Methodist, our vision is to be the best place to live and work. We know we can’t take great care of our residents and provide superior service without excellent, engaged team members. That’s why we focus on taking care of our team as well as our customers. In fact, it’s part of our strategic roadmap: creating the culture.

Creating a culture of servant leadership is the most important part of our strategic roadmap. But what is servant leadership, and why is it important?

staff holding hands and talking with resident

How to be a servant leader

Anyone can be a servant leader. Putting others first, they are the type of people we all want to work with. There’s a saying that summarizes this well: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

There are three pillars of servant leadership: relationships, energy, and excellence. All are important, but relationships are foundational.

In any setting, relationships are built through intentionally fostering mutual respect and trust by showing love. In short, servant leaders put people first, and they lead with love.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s definition of love from 1 Corinthians: Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it doesn’t boast, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. It doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.

That’s the perfect definition of a servant leader.

Why servant leadership matters

It’s hard to create a culture without caring. This is why we’re training everyone at Walker Methodist, from accountants to caregivers, on how to be a servant leader.

Because servant leadership is about putting others first and leading with love, another way to strengthen the pillar of relationships is encouragement. Encouragement is essential to unite team members and work toward missions and goals together.

One way we do this at Walker Methodist is by recognizing team members and their outstanding performances. When people feel valued, respected, and trusted, they become engaged and empowered. For us, having a culture of servant leadership is the main driver to achieving our entire strategic road map and vision.

Servant leadership could change the culture at your job, home, or other community. One person leading with care, love, and encouragement can cause a ripple effect reaching beyond what you imagined.

How can you lead with the heart of a servant today?


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