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Leadership Behaviors to Succeed in the Digital Era
Sandeep Srinivasarao Solution Director, Digital & Analytics | May 28, 2020
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Each of us is always a part of some group whether we are at home or at work or wherever we are, and I believe that the results are maximized when we work together in achieving our goals. Quite the same is the case of a Scrum Master, who is also known as the “servant leader”, a leader who leads and serves at the same time. This article mostly revolves around the different aspects of a servant leader’s role, servant leadership characteristics, and the leadership behaviors therein. The first and the most essential step is to understand the “SERVE” model followed by a scrum master.

The servant leadership model, or the SERVE model, provided below, was created by author and renowned management expert Ken Blanchard. This model will let you imbibe servant leadership characteristics and execute servant leadership practices in the organization. SERVE is an acronym for:

S – See the future
E – Engage and develop others
R – Reinvent continuously
V – Value results and relationships
E – Embody the values

The term “servant-leadership” was first coined by Robert Greenleaf (1904–1990) in 1970, in his essay titled "The Servant as a Leader."

What does servant leadership mean?

‘The servant-leader is a servant first’. The motto behind the philosophy is to stay focused on the needs of others, caring for people, and providing an environment where the competent and impotent support each other to build a good community.

The motto behind servant leadership is to stay focused on others’ needs and build community spirit.

Servant leadership practices are most likely associated with the participative leadership style. The definition of servant leadership behaviors can be put as a lifelong journey that includes the discovery of one’s self, an enthusiasm to serve others, and a commitment to lead, keeping a focus on the satisfaction and the performance of the employees.

Today, you’ve got to produce more for less, and with greater speed than you’ve ever done before. The only way you can do that in a sustained way is through the empowerment of people. And you will get empowered through high-trust cultures and encourage, support, and enable subordinates to unfold their full potential and abilities.

Ten characteristics required for a servant leader as suggested by Robert Greenleaf are as follows:

Listening

Practicing servant leadership means having a long-way commitment to listening attentively to others.

The following 10 guidelines, adopted from Thill and Bovee’s book, will enable you to improve as an audience-

  • Minimize both internal and external distractions.
  • Adjust your listening to the situation.
  • Show that you are listening through your non-verbal communication.
  • Determine the pivotal points and plan a procedure to recall them.
  • Show your concern.
  • Do not jump into giving advice.
  • Do not interrupt.
  • Do not prejudge an individual’s message by his appearance.
  • Stay focused on the subject.
  • Remain clear headed even if the topic is emotional.

Empathy

A servant leader needs to accept and recognize people for their special and unique spirits. Empathy is “[s]eeing with the eyes of the another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another”.

Here are a few hacks to develop empathy-

  • Imagine you being the other person.
  • Practice caring behavior.
  • Converse with people with no personal expectations or goal of fixing them.
  • Identify with their experiences by relating to a similar situation which you have been through.
  • Heal past damages.

Healing

In 1970, Greenleaf proposed servant leadership as a way of life in which the focus is on the betterment of others.

Following are the few ways that will help you to build healing capabilities-

  • Learn how to deal with difficult situations in terms of serving the common good.
  • Recognize an opportunity to complete those people and organizations you are professionally associated with.
  • Care for people and their welfare.
  • Choose your words wisely as people may be suffering from lots of personal and professional disturbances on daily basis.
  • Respond to other’s needs.
  • Seek feedback.

Awareness

Servant leaders need to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Awareness aids understanding the issues like ethics and values. It lends itself to being able to view most situations from a more integrated and holistic position.

The following are the few ways to develop awareness-

  • If you are not perfect at anything, you can still perform at a high level.
  • Make wise and fair decisions without getting influenced by self-emotions and biases.
  • Identify your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
  • Build the strengths and accept the weaknesses of others.
  • Encourage people instead of judging them.

Persuasion

An efficient servant leader builds group consensus smoothly, clearly, and persistently. The servant leader does not exert group compliance through the position of power.

The following are the ways to develop persuasion capabilities-

  • Utilize the personal element, instead of applying power to influence followers and achieve the organizational objectives.
  • Build the culture of consensus for group decision-making.
  • Be friendly and always be ready to guide others.
  • Believe in learn-error-learn (try and error method).
  • Make people believe that they are accepted and trusted.

Conceptualization

The act of conceptualization is an act of thinking through, seeing beyond the existing, and discovering something new. Servant leaders keep up a delicate harmony between conceptual thinking and an everyday-centered approach. The servant leader must have a dream and an ability to portray it in vivid language. For any great thing to happen, there must be a great dream. Dreams raise the thinking power of people. The greatest leaders are those who can put their dream clearly to their listeners and keep up a fragile harmony between calculated reasoning and an everyday-centered approach.

Foresight

Foresight is an attribute that allows the servant leader to grasp knowledge from the experiences, the present facts, and the likely effect of the future decision.

Here are the ways to build foresight-

  • Identify the changing trends, their causes, and their impact.
  • Explain the vision to the team to engage themselves in achieving the vision.
  • Identify different scenarios and check if anything can be done today which can help them tackle future scenarios.

Stewardship

Servant leadership is like a stewardship, which assumes commitment as a foremost part to accomplish the need of others. It additionally stresses the utilization of receptiveness and influence instead of control. Stewardship as a leadership behavior leads to successful organizational performance.

Go through the following ways that will help you to develop stewardship qualities-

  • The leader’s success always depends on the team’s success.
  • Commit to the organizational goals that will help you achieve success.
  • Help the organization to become a center of learning and collaboration.
  • Be responsible and accountable for results.
  • Utilize and manage all resources.

Commitment to the Growth of the People

Servant leaders trust that individuals have an inherent value beyond their unmistakable commitment as workers. Therefore, the servant leader is profoundly dedicated to the development of every individual inside the organization.

Following are the ways to develop commitment to team-

  • Appreciate the ideas and suggestions given by the employees.
  • Encourage team involvement in decision-making.
  • Identify growth opportunities for the team members.
  • Encourage and motivate people in achieving organizational goals.
  • Be committed to helping team members grow.
  • Connect to the others’ developmental needs and actively find ways to meet those needs.

Building Community

Servant leaders believe that organizations need to function as a community. A servant leader instills a sense of community spirit in the workplace.

By following ways, you can build the community spirit-

  • Develop the culture of knowledge sharing.
  • Develop a learning community.
  • Treat everyone equally.
  • Build the team to support each other.
  • Socially connect with each other.
  • Care for each other.
  • Appreciate each other’s success.
  • Always be there for each other.

Summing it Up

At last, leadership is a choice. Before trying to become a servant leader, you should remember that an effective servant leader always understands every aspect of the business deeply without distracting from the attainment of long-term goals.