Servant leadership

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Dallas Turner
  • 911th Air Refueling Squadron
Across the years, we have been exposed to many different leaders wielding a myriad of different styles and methods. We have dealt with the laissez-faire leader who leaves their followers to their own devices and just lets the chips fall where they may.

This style is not always very productive for the organization because members are left to figure it out on their own without help from their leadership team. In contrast, some of us have also toiled under the heavy hand of an autocratic leader whose mantra was, "my way or the highway."

While the organization will most likely be getting everything it needs to be successful under this leadership style, the members of the organization will suffer because they are just carrying out tasks without much thought to how those tasks affect the overall well-being of the organization.

Most of us tend to lean toward one of these leadership styles, it is the natural tendency of an individual to move toward their comfort zone. We need a way to effectively train ourselves to move not toward where we are comfortable, but to where we are needed.

We must identify what the organization and our individual needs are and how to find the leadership methods that will produce a balance in the mix of organizational and personal goals. The concepts of servant leadership are a key ingredient that can help us more accurately calculate that effective mix of organizational and individual needs.

Servant leadership emphasizes ideas such as trust, collaboration, empathy and the ethical use of power. The objective of this style of leadership is to enhance the growth of individuals within the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement. The idea is that by developing individuals, the organization will be better postured to thrive and excel and, in the end, be more productive.

When applying the concept of servant leadership to our own personal style, we must understand that we serve two very important entities, the mission and the people. We must focus our efforts to serve those two areas. The mission must happen and we are also obligated to deliberately develop our organization's members to not only accomplish that mission, but to also understand how what they are doing is a part of something bigger than themselves.

By adding the concept of servant leadership to our supervisory toolbox and using those skills to deliberately develop the members of our organization, we begin to treat our teammates as more than just a tool we use to generate a certain effect in the organization. We begin to treat them as valuable members of a high performance team and our teammates will respond with higher levels of performance.