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Robert Greenleaf came up with the words "servant leadership" in 1970. The term simply refers to a leader who does not act formally. This leader helps his team to meet its wants. The most important characteristic of servant leaders is that they set a good example to the people they lead, just as I do. This style has some characteristics of democratic leadership because the whole team takes part in the decision-making (Flint, 2012). This leadership style needs integrity and generosity in order to be successful. Servant leaders' recognition is very rare because they leave the team to present their work although they made it all happen; they take the team step by step up to the last minute where they are successful with their project.
This leadership style is best applicable in an environment where people appreciate values and their meaning. Servant leadership will encourage the followers to take values and ethics seriously (Kippenberger, 2002). These leaders will appreciate them, and since they lead by example, they will influence their followers to do the same.
Servant leadership style is mostly applicable in organizations which have an organizational culture. Organizational culture comprises of the values, ethics, and ideals that the employees should follow to the letter. This leadership style helps the employees and team members in general to act with high moral standards since everything is clear in the handbook of organizational culture. Team members should imitate their leader's good acts in order to ensure that they do not deviate from the values of the team (Papendick, 2006).
Servant leadership cannot work in the competitive environment. In the competitive environment people make decisions fast, and the team does not need to be part of the decision-making process. The team will slow down the process yet time is the most significant factor in the competitive environment. According to Lewis & American Association of School Administration (1993), leaders will find themselves losing the battle because of the time they spend consulting the team members.
Servant leadership is only applicable in situations where a team needs a leader to help it to meet its needs. For instance, a committee needs a leader to chair the meeting. This style works best in politics. This is because people need to elect politicians who in return want to show their gratitude to their electors by allowing them to give their opinions of the decisions they make (Flint, 2012).
Servant leadership has its drawback in that other team members can take advantage of their generosity. Therefore, it is critical for these leaders to watch out their back. According to Neuschel and Kellogg School of Management (2005), the saying "keep your enemies close, but your friends closer" suits this leadership style. These leaders should use their integrity to ensure that the team members do not betray them.
Servant leaders should set their limit. They should set the extent of their generosity in order to ensure that the team members respect them as leaders although they do not act as formal leaders. Servant leaders should ensure that they do not lose the respect they once had from the team members due to their generosity (Papendick, 2006).
Servant leaders should be the overall decision-makers. Consulting the team members on what they think about a certain strategy does not mean that leaders should go by these decisions (Flint, 2012). They should use their integrity to make the right decision for the team even if it means not going by the team's choice.
In conclusion, inventory of leadership styles should help the leaders to improve their leadership tactics. Leaders will do so by accepting their weaknesses and working towards strengthening their weaknesses for the better.