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  • Jenn Donahue

Are You A Servant Leader? 4 Questions to Ask Your Team

Are you a servant leader?

To answer this question, we need to understand what servant leadership is. Servant leadership, simply put, is leading with the desire to serve your team and your people.

“Servant leadership is a leadership style that prioritizes the growth, well-being, and empowerment of employees. It aims to foster an inclusive environment that enables everyone in the organization to thrive as their authentic self.” - SHRM

By making our teams our priority, we are putting their growth first and committing to each individual's success. As leaders, we often set the direction and bring our team with us to execute the plan, but first, we need to ask our people what they need.

Servant leaders focus on coaching and mentoring their teams, rather than simply “telling them what to do.” When our teams have the tools that make them feel supported, they feel empowered, motivated, and ready to achieve great things with you.

Here are 4 questions you can ask to serve your teams' professional growth this season.

  1. How can I make each person on the team as successful as I can?

Actively checking in with the members of your team allows you to learn what they need—both in their current projects and their day-to-day roles. These check-ins don’t need to be only about specific tasks, they can focus on a broader vision and can act as a reflection for individuals to be honest about where they feel discomfort in their role as a whole. When leaders can understand what challenges each individual is facing or where they feel they are lacking support and resources, then we can serve them.

The goal is to give your people what they need to keep going. Solutions to their needs can look like more one-on-one connections, a more secluded workspace (likely for the introverts), offering more training, setting more reasonable timelines, or providing more resources. It’s your responsibility as a leader to discover what each person needs to be successful. And then give it to them!

  1. How can I highlight what my team does?

When individuals feel confident, they perform better. And a great way to inspire more confidence is to highlight their successes and recognize them for their achievements! When you highlight the positive work your team does, they feel empowered and inspired to keep doing great work.

Feedback is one of the best ways for employees to learn and grow. Make sure to include plenty of positive feedback! Giving your team regular reviews can make your people feel seen and offer them an opportunity to continue to grow.

Research in Harvard Business Review shares that while negative feedback provides guidance, leading people to become more confident in the work they are doing through positive feedback is equally important. Highlighting your employees' strengths encourages them to take pride in their work giving a sense of accomplishment and motivation.

The article notes, “A Gallup survey found that 67% of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, as compared to only 31% of employees whose managers focused on their weaknesses.”

Servant leadership style means highlighting and emphasizing where each member is succeeding and being dedicated and committed to their continued growth.

2. How can I help each member of my team reach their individual goals and aspirations?

As shared in a recent LinkedIn article, one of the key principles of servant leadership is the ability to understand and connect with others on a deep, emotional level. Empathy is essential for building strong relationships and it creates a culture of collaboration and support. When these relationships are strong, teams feel comfortable sharing their goals with their leaders. When leaders know the aspirations of others, we can step in to encourage and support each member in achieving them.

Empathy is the foundation of servant leadership. Having care and genuine connection with the people we lead creates a sense of community and belonging, which ultimately brings great success.

3. How can I give my team the credit they deserve?

Giving credit in the workplace is about sharing what often goes unnoticed in the workplace. Sometimes organizations tend to operate “business as usual” until something goes wrong. And the only time the workforce hears from leaders is when they’ve messed something up. This is not going to motivate your people to do well!

When you graciously give credit where it’s due, it allows people to own their work with a sense of pride… and want to take on more!

In a recent Forbes article, it was shared that employees who feel recognized for their work are more likely to stay with a company. An inspired and motivated culture is created when we encourage our teams to recognize each other and set an example of good leadership by doing the same. Making time to champion your teams' small acts such as teamwork and good communication keeps morale high and builds confidence.

The payoff of building this confidence within each individual is that our teams will feel supported and want to continue showing up and sharing their ideas—pushing to help us reach company goals because they feel like they are being considered along the way.

These acts of recognition don’t always have to be an act of public praise, but more so a genuine moment of appreciation. When employees feel appreciated, they perform better.

What Happens When We Incorporate the Practices of Servant Leadership?

When we practice servant leadership our teams feel capable of success.

Asking the questions above helps to hold ourselves accountable to the challenges and needs of others. We are given the opportunity to serve the individuals who work alongside us. It lets us as leaders learn what each person needs and equips us with the knowledge to offer those tools and support them. In turn, we offer individuals the opportunity to develop their skills and show up fully present and engaged.

Imagine the growth that could be achieved when we support our teams and give them the resources to learn and implement new skills. Not only do they grow, but the bottom line does too.

The holidays are a perfect opportunity to start practicing servant leadership. As we step into the Thanksgiving season, we can think of ways to show appreciation and gratitude to our teams. It is important to recognize who has helped us along the way and let them know what impact they’ve made!

People like to be seen, heard, and appreciated for the things they do—and as servant leaders, it is our role to do that.

If you want to learn more about servant leadership styles or would like me to speak on this topic to your group or organization, reach out and let’s talk!


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