Servant leaders can make the case for the creation of competitive advantage through many of the leadership tools that are so characteristic of servant leaders. Results of the Conference Board 2013 CEO Challenge survey found that CEO’s see the need for increased engagement of their “human capital” in order to have a competitive advantage in today’s workplace. Human capital describes how best to develop, engage, manage, and retain talent in a company. The study revealed that, worldwide, human capital was named the leading challenge to gain competitive advantage.
At its most fundamental level, servant leadership is focused on the needs and the development of the follower. Many researchers in leadership studies have concluded that satisfying the followers’ needs includes helping them grow. It is believed that servant leadership promotes followers who are more freer and more autonomous….which leads to freedom of personal expression, creativity, and innovation. This end result of servant leadership is what many experts feel will give companies a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
Servant leadership leads to profitability and increased market share but it does not happen overnight. Servant leadership is a long-term journey to sustainable competitive advantage. Today’s leaders need to have the strategic foresight to see past the immediate short-term losses to the big picture of long term gains and the realization of the true potential of organizations.
Taking extra time to build an empowering organizational culture will certainly prove to be both profitable and sustainable in the future. Organizations that develop their followers and allow for creativity and innovation will reap the benefits of increased market share and increased profitability by turning away from factors outside the organization and focusing on inside factors such as employees, customers, level of efficiency, and capacity for innovation.
Whether we are building and empowering large organizations or simply building and empowering our own family units, having a people-driven strategy is proving to be effective. Servant leadership is about making sure that other people are just better people for knowing you. As you consider developing your servant leadership skills, remember the following:
- Leadership is about relationships
- Followers will not follow a leaders that is not trusted
- Developing others is as important as developing ourselves