Value of Servant Leadership in the Business World

‘Servant leader is one who invests time in the life of another person to the extent that the other person becomes bigger, better, wiser, richer, healthier and wealthier that the leader himself or herself. That’s truly the definition of servant leadership.’

In our recently released podcast episode with Dr. Madana Kumar, Vice President & Global Head of Leadership Development at UST Global and a Servant Leadership Evangelist, we explored the meaning of Servant Leadership and how it applies to the modern business world, and specifically to leadership roles. In this blog, we highlight some of the key points discussed and how servant leadership can be a valuable asset to any business leader.

Servant leadership is not an entirely new concept and has been around for many years, albeit it’s value in the business context has only being realized today. Servant leadership practitioners are new age leaders that rethink the traditional leadership model and place the people or the employees at the top of the pyramid, with the leaders tasked with serving the people above.

Although, historically the value servant leadership has been widely known, the business world is reluctant of its application in an organizational setup as managers cite the weaknesses of servant leadership in today’s dog-eat-dog business world. And, this outlook is again propagated by leaders who are more optimistic with an authoritarian leadership approach, where the leader is the sole commander of her followers.

However, leaders like Dr. Kumar have time and again highlighted the success of servant leadership for an organization by showcasing a serve-first approach to empower their employees to perform better. By offering humility rather than authority and focusing on enhancing the growth of employees by unlocking their true potential, servant leaders have the capacity to bring about organization-wide changes for the better.

Here are few words of advice from some more successful servant leadership proponents:

"Performance goes through the roof."

  • Art Barter, Founder & CEO, Servant Leadership Institute

"Magic happens."

  • Pat Falotico, CEO, Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership 

As opposed to traditional leaders who focus on managing employees and driving performance in exchange for promotions and benefits, servant leaders go beyond such transactional approach and actively strive to align the employees’ motivation with that of the organization. Such an approach can both engage employees as well as drive the desired results. And, despite the naysayers, proponents like Dr. Kumar prove how servant leadership can be a valuable asset in today’s business world.

When tested for benefits, the servant leadership model established in few successful automobile companies, the study revealed that servant leadership did in fact enable these companies to drive positive ratings, optimized customer loyalty and net profit growth.

Clearly, there is a case to be made for the value of servant leadership in the business world.

Listen to Dr. Kumar’s podcast to learn what servant leadership delivers in the business context.

For more podcasts about leadership, visit Leadership Spotlight