Are You a Servant Leader or Traditional Leader?

August 6, 20191:58 pm
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Are you considering yourself as a leader who is caring and putting people’s interest first before yours? Or are you a leader who is task-oriented and determined about success?

Servant leader

If you are among those who put people first, then consider yourself as a servant leader. First described by Robert K. Greenleaf in his essay titled The Servant as Leader, servant leaders have a mindset to serve and serve first. This type of leaders is sharply different from the traditional leader because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions, said Greenleaf.

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The servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. Their main goal is to share power, put the needs of the employees first and help people develop and perform as highly as possible. Therefore, they are considered as a leader who can enrich the lives of individuals, build a better organisation, and ultimately create a more just and caring world.

Generally, servant leaders possess these traits:

  • They consider the needs of employees first.
  • They focus on satisfying the highest priority needs of others.
  • They are caring and responsibility for their staff.
  • They commit to helping employees develop expertise and improve performance.
  • They prioritise personal and professional development of others, ensuring they build their knowledge base and professional skills.
  • They insist that the organisation make a positive contribution to society.
  • And while not losing focus on their employee wellbeing, they make sure an organisation improve as a community.

Nonetheless, among the great things servant leader do, they also have some shortfalls. For instance, a servant leader would require more time to achieve a positive result. Focusing on a large group of people is not an easy thing to do but a servant leader believe that success lies greatly in their employees. In addition, they are often vastly overrated and prone to discriminate individuals by gender.

Traditional leader

Meanwhile, the opposite role of a servant is a traditional leader. Max Weber in 1947 proposed the name of traditional leadership style. This style is based on the belief that power is bestowed on the leader, which explains why traditional leadership also represents the traditions of the past. As an instance, leaders of this style are kings and dictators.

Traditional leaders always use power and influence in order to lead. Their efforts are also directed at achieving what is expected and results are the most important evidence of success. In today’s businesses, the example of traditional leadership would be a powerful manager – manager makes decisions and those under their command execute the orders.

That said, traditional leaders focus more on thriving their company rather than their people. They often said to care more about results even if it has to sacrifice their own people. The three major traits of this leadership style are:

  • viewed as having control and power,
  • followed because of personal loyalty to the position, not to the individual, and
  • their followers are promoted based on favouritism and office politics.

Comparing to servant leader, the downfall of the traditional leader would be numerous. As holding power and focusing on success, they might not welcome new ideas. They often consider themselves as the source for all new businesses and ways of operating. Traditional leaders also have a tendency to lead to high turnover among their team as employees are often frustrated under this leadership style, thusly, they often leave when a better opportunity arises.

The best leader characteristic

It is obvious that the servant leader will be seen as the best leadership style. Good teamwork is one of many keys to success, so investing in people will likely help you build a better organisation. A leader, however, should be able to balance between people, success, as well as time – and servant leaders tend to require more time to achieve better results. Meanwhile, traditional leadership is too narrowed and dictator which is resented by most individuals. Thusly, the best leader characteristics should be a combination of both traits. They should possess honesty and integrity, and commit to people first while having a good decision-making capability.

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