How to Make Servant Leadership Work for You

BY Kathy Crosett
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As a business leader, one of your jobs is to set company culture. You need to provide the energy to help your teams work together as they strive to achieve a common goal.  People don’t always get along, and you may find that the traditional company picnic or potluck lunch is not bringing folks together. David Williams, in a post for Forbes, suggests another strategy for improving teamwork.

Williams discusses "servant leadership," a phrase coined by Robert K. Greenleaf who heads up the Greenleaf Institute for Servant Leadership. To illustrate how servant leadership works, Williams highlights how his company makes a commitment on a regular basis to have all employees participate in a day of community service. He acknowledges the costs of this commitment are high. Everyone in the company is off the job for an entire day. In addition, the planning for this type of service also requires significant time and expense.

These projects can be anything from working at a community food bank to cleaning up a park or a playground. They could also be selected by a group vote. While the work performed is important, it's also key to the company’s purpose. In establishing regular community service events that include all employees, you are sending a message. You’re telling your employees you expect them to be part of a team that is showing commitment to some of the philosophies touted by Greenleaf. These philosophies range from empathy to stewardship to community building.

Making your employees part of these projects gives them a sense of pride and responsibility that is outward rather than inward looking. With that new vision, your employees may also get along better with members of other teams in your company.