What do successful companies like Southwest Airlines and Chick-fil-A have in common? The answer is servant leadership. And based on the unprecedented growth and stellar reputations of both over the years, the approach has paid off big time.

The benefits of servant leadership go beyond growth, higher profits and great reputations. These benefits include a rock-solid company culture, lower turnover and extraordinary performance at all levels. When it comes to culture, trust is a defining part of servant leadership and an end result. That’s a great thing, because an organization with high levels of trust among team members and leadership can’t help but strengthen the culture and increase efficiency, too.

Servant leadership also creates team members that are more engaged, purpose-driven — and less likely to leave. Lower turnover also saves time and money. An empowered team is a happy team, and happier team members are a source of increased performance. They are also more innovative, and more creative.

At this point, you may be wondering if servant leadership has any downsides at all. While the concept and practice of servant leadership is super effective, it’s only realistic to be on the lookout for possible pitfalls. After all, nothing’s perfect. Some things to beware of include:

Encouraging a sense of entitlement

Supporting and encouraging your team does not mean catering to indulgent requests or doling out special privileges. The last thing you want is to foster an entitlement mentality. Without exception, servant leaders model the type of behavior they expect from team members.

Developing compassion fatigue

A hallmark of servant leadership is caring deeply for your team, but not at the expense of your own well-being. Make sure you put healthy limits and boundaries in place.

Ignoring poor performers

A servant leader should do everything they reasonably can to put the needs of the team first, but that doesn’t mean excusing or overlooking underperforming employees. Ignoring poor performance discourages the rest of the team and kills morale.

Becoming a servant leader isn’t easy, but being a better leader and building a better team, starts with you!


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