Deliver on the Promise of Servant Leadership

working togetherThe quality of many work environments around the globe isn’t very good. Some would say it sucks. The frustration and stress most employees experience at work quashes hope, discretionary energy, well being, cooperation, and performance.

The data is undeniable. Only 21 percent of employees feel strongly valued at work (TinyPulse). 72 percent of employees report that the most important factor in their job satisfaction is “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” – yet only 33 percent experience that respect (SHRM). Employees are leaving their jobs at the fastest rate since 2007 (US Department of Labor).

Data alone doesn’t tell the story. Human experiences can.

Here’s a powerful example. Two friends changed jobs in the last year. Both are talented, engaged actors on this stage we call earth. Their experiences, skills, and industries are quite different, but both were ecstatic about the promise of working for a great boss and a great company.

In both cases, these friends were hired by someone they respected and were excited to work for. Within months, however, the bubble burst. Their great bosses left their respective companies, leaving my friends in a dysfunctional work environment with poor leadership.


Why did their bosses leave? Politics. Favoritism. Promises made and not kept. Values conflicts. My friends are doing the best they can under trying circumstances – to say the least.

Who has the responsibility and authority to create a powerful, positive, productive work culture . . . to ensure all employees are treated with respect . . . and to ensure employees feel strongly valued at work?

Leaders do.

And, many leaders don’t. They don’t know how to manage their work culture. They’ve never been asked to do that.

When leaders do embrace this responsibility and fully implement a culture of trust, respect, and dignity, amazing things happen. Engagement thrives. Service quality skyrockets. Results and profits jump 30 percent and more.

Our world desperately needs servant leaders – in our organizations, in our neighborhoods, in our political system, in our court system – basically, everywhere. Servant leaders create environments where values – how people treat each other – are as important as results.

There are servant leaders all around us. We read about and appreciate servant leaders of global organizations like Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group and Garry Ridge of the WD-40 Companies. We know less about local servant leaders like my friend, Umair, here in Colorado.

There is a movement afoot to formalize what effective leadership looks and sounds like – to inspire leaders across the globe to embrace the promise of servant leadership. Check out the True Leader Creed, a recent effort created by valued friends. If you agree with what the creed requires, sign it – and live it.

We need less divisiveness, less dismissiveness, and less demeaning words and actions from leaders today. We need servant leaders that create respectful workplaces and meaningful work that serves others. Servant leaders praise, encourage, inspire, and hold others accountable for being our best selves.

The road we’re on isn’t a great one. We need a new direction. Sign the creed. Be of service and of grace. Inspire people to amazing performance.

You’ll have a lot more fun – and you’ll attract and retain talented, engaged employees.

Does your boss today model servant leadership? How good is the quality of your team’s work environment? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Steven Pepple – Adobe Stock. All rights reserved.

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