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Update your outdated, “I’m the boss,” management style and adapt your practices for excelled growth, high retention, and happy employees.

The term “servant leadership” arose from the work of Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s. Greenleaf espoused the idea that a leader should focus first and foremost on serving their subordinates, constantly supporting them to become stronger, wiser, more autonomous, and more likely to emulate the behaviour of service.

The principles espoused in servant leadership were revolutionary when they first arrived in the world of business management, and have gone on to influence generations of workplace leaders. In recent years, they are gaining new attention due to the close correspondence to the principles of Agile management.


Both servant leaders and agile managers must develop and display a number of specific skills. Let’s take a look at the abilities that provide the foundation for successful implementation of these management styles.


The ability to listen is an important, and too often overlooked, leadership skill. Active listening is a crucial way to gather information from your team, build trust, and empower others. Leaders who spend more time talking than listening tend to believe they alone possess the information that leads to solutions. This kind of long-winded leader weakens the autonomy and higher functions of their team.


Empathy is a leadership attribute that is drawing greater attention in today’s interconnected world. Empathetic leaders build stronger, more authentic relationships. This is true of team members down the hall as well as team members around the globe. However, studies show that empathy is declining among business leaders, as they find themselves too busy to practice relationship building.


Servant leaders practice active self-awareness and awareness of others, and Greenleaf espouses it as an essential component of strong leadership. Likewise, self-awareness and situational awareness are critical tools for the Agile leader. Self-awareness balances perspectives and helps a leader make decisions that serve the team, rather than their ego.

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Servant leadership is about working on behalf of your team, not just yourself.


A servant leader is deeply committed to nurturing their team, their peers, and their company. This commitment to growth is particularly important in today’s employment market. Today, talent is in high demand, and employee retention is harder to achieve. A leader who delegates wisely and strengthens their team not only boosts productivity and generates better results for the company, but creates a path for growth and advancement that improves employee engagement and retention.


While servant leadership calls for managers to develop “soft” skills, it is proven to provide measurable results within an organization. A leader who encourages the strengths and autonomy of subordinates creates a workplace with better outcomes.


When a leader actively listens, puts aside their own intentions, and is willing to learn from subordinates, they make better decisions. These decisions are based on better and more reliable information and are more likely to be fully endorsed and enacted by the team or the company.


Servant leaders lower staff turnover, improve employee engagement and create strength within a company. Not only does this save direct costs associated with turnover and low retention, but it creates more value within a company’s existing talent pool.


Engaged employees are more productive, but empowered employees are even more so. When a leader becomes the only authority and executor of decisions, the entire team can only be as productive as a single manager allows. Servant leadership frees employees to use their judgement and act on behalf of the team and the company.

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Servant leadership sparks growth by empowering employees.


Servant leadership isn’t new, but it’s more important now than ever. Contact us to learn more about how to build these critical skills and improve results in your company on every level. Unique Team Building has been building relationships and nurturing growth since 2007. Let us help you forge a path to success!

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