Servant leadership means supporting and inspiring the whole organisation to create synergies. This type of leadership doesn’t require a physical presence as impacting people is by internal virtues like empathy or an excellent sense of observation.

As a CEO of a tech start-up, I strongly identify with this type of leadership. First of all, it resonates with my character – I find people fascinating, enjoy working with them, and simply love to observe when my behaviour gets the best out of people! Secondly, we work totally remotely. In such a dispersed organisation, the key factor is trust and empathy.

This is why I gathered the top 7 habits to make your servant leadership effective and people-oriented. Here we go!

Listen to the others

The first and foremost habit of a servant leader is listening to others. Active listening is a foundation of good communication and an unreplaceable feature, making the leader charismatic. Think, how many times during the conversation have you been only hearing your interlocutor and just waiting to say what you wanted to say? If your answer is “many times”, it’s time to change this habit.

Active listening requires awareness and interest in people. I know it’s not the easiest thing to listen actively when your employee tells you another story about a boring process. But you shouldn’t think this way. Realise that this topic is super important to your employee. Otherwise, he probably won’t turn to you.

Focus intensely on that issue. Ask questions, try to find solutions, and let your employee know that his problem is interesting and that you are ready to help. Be careful with your body language, and don’t show impatience. If you’re busy at the moment, set the right time to continue the discussion and keep your word.

You are not omniscient

Servant leadership requires humility towards own knowledge. You can’t be an expert in everything. You probably achieve mastery in a maximum of 2 skills. And you’ll find many people better than you in other cases. Accept that and use it in your leadership journey!

Most of all, surround yourself with people better than you. Treat it like a habit. You’re a leader, so set the direction and let professionals do what they do best. Manage their talents and motivate. Be like a lantern, not a judge –  light people’s way and inspire them to act. 

Be aware of your people

Your employees are not just more or less valuable assets. They are people. Everyone has their own virtues and talents on the one hand, as well as everyday problems and difficulties on the other. 

A perfect way to encourage employees to build a strong relationship and motivate them to give the best of themselves is by providing them with your attention and awareness.

Be their leader, their boss, and their friend. Give them space to share their thoughts, create a feedback-friendly atmosphere, and be interested in their lives. All in all, work is not everything. 

Show, don’t tell

Leading by example is a thousand times more effective than giving orders like a general. As a business owner, you don’t only get profits – you have to work hard to become an inspiration for your employees.

It’s associated with many super-effective, everyday habits. Be punctual at the office, always prepared for meetings, manage your time well, be proactive and solution-oriented. Can you imagine the opposite and require all those things without following them personally? It’s called hypocrisy. And it’s often the source of many toxic behaviours among employees.

Be transparent

One of the worst practices I observed in companies is separating the departments (and thus, people) from one another. As if every piece of a company was a company itself. This situation results in poor communication and a lack of transparency. 

The fish rots from the head down. If you want to be a good leader managing a well-prospering company, you should be transparent with your employees. It will create a transparency-friendly work environment.

The second aspect of that rule is creating a feedback-friendly atmosphere. Understatements and guessing are totally ineffective and build uncertainty among employees.

Assume good, and you’ll receive good

At first glance, self-fulfilling prophecies seem like a kind of mystic. But their existence and influence on your life are proven by science. Your mind is shaped by what it focuses on. This does not only apply to the mental sphere. Your brain literally changes physically depending on whether you think positive or negative!  

This is just one aspect of assuming the good. Another thing is the perception of problems. As a business owner, you need to know that things don’t always go well. Everyone makes mistakes. Your reaction is essential. Make it a habit to see mistakes as natural and kind of lessons for your business. Always assume the goodwill of an employee, and even if you have evidence of negligence, be careful with your judgment.

Protect the weak

Ok, but what if you’re not decisive in every matter? You have managers who have more direct contact with regular employees. You’re not able to always control if someone abuses his position.

Let me share the story of my friend. A long time ago he was working in a very toxic company. His manager obviously abused employees, especially women. My friend tried to draw the attention of the business owner to this problem. He didn’t react, as the manager was working in this company for more than 10 years. Finally, my friend decided to quit. As far as I know, this abusive manager was sued by one of ex-employees.

Regular employees usually have weaker positions than managers. That’s why you should be aware of every signal of abuse. Even if you are absolutely convinced that it is not true, it is your responsibility to find out the truth. If the rumours turn out to be false, find out what is behind them.