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Putting Others First: The Art of Servant Leadership

Servant leadership is one of Barnhart’s core values, which states: We serve our people by providing purpose, trust, belonging, progress, recognition and compensation.

By adhering to a servant leadership model, Barnhart bucks a traditional trend. But they’re not alone.  Companies as renowned as Google have a servant leadership culture. Still, most companies adhere to the traditional leadership style. Why rock the boat?

Here are some arguments. According to an article in Forbes, while the main focus of traditional leadership is to improve the business position of the company or the organization in the market, a servant leader focuses on the people that are directly below them.  At its core, servant leadership revolves around the notion that leaders should act as servants first and foremost. Instead of focusing solely on their own ambitions and authority, servant leaders genuinely care about the needs of their team members and prioritize their development and success.

When leaders shift their focus from the company to the employees, they are more likely to produce skilled, talented, knowledgeable, and motivated employees. This, in turn, will help to improve the overall operations and management of the organization.

Jim Hunter is the author of The Servant: A Simple Story about the True Essence of Leadership. He asserts the true foundation of leadership is not power, but authority, which is built upon relationships, love, service, and sacrifice.

“Leadership is not management,” Hunter says. “Management is what you do. Leadership is who you are.”

There are several aspects to being a servant leader, but one is to be an active listener. Traditional leaders tend to speak and command. Servant leaders are more likely to listen and understand. Leaders must not only hear what their team members say but also understand their concerns, suggestions, and aspirations. 

Another crucial trait of servant leadership is the ability to support and nurture employees’ growth.  A traditional leader measures success through results and through their own advancement.  A servant leader measures success through their team’s growth.  This investment in employees’ growth enhances their skills and confidence, leading to higher job satisfaction, overall performance and reduced turnover rates. As team members feel supported and valued, they become more engaged and committed to the company’s mission.

Servant leadership presents a powerful model for guiding teams in the workplace. As with any leadership style, it has pros and cons. But it does have an unparalleled precedent.  

“Servant leadership isn’t new,” Hunter says. “Jesus was talking about it 2,000 years ago.”