The 4 Surprising Benefits of Servant Leadership

What do Marriott, Whole Foods, WD-40, the San Antonio Spurs, and Starbucks all have in common?  First, they’re all billion-dollar brands. Second, every single one of these companies uses a unique management approach called “Servant Leadership” to shape company culture and guide daily operations.

Servant Leadership dictates that every leader in the organization — from the CEO to warehouse managers — prioritize the success of their employees and team above their own personal ambitions. The best Servant Leaders empower their employees by creating ideal circumstances for each individual to thrive. In order to be effective, this “service-first” mindset requires leaders to actively listen to ideas from all team members, support individual personal and professional growth, and make decisions collectively.

To many people, this approach sounds crazy. That’s because most of us are dutifully attached to a traditional hierarchical system in which a single authority figure commands and directs all employees. But what if we told you that an ethos of Servant Leadership has clinically-proven physical and psychological benefits for employers, employees, and can be the driving factor behind the success of your business?

Here are four surprising reasons that simple acts of Servant Leadership can revolutionize your job, your employees’ experience, and your company as a whole:

  1. Psychological Benefits: Studies show that helping others solve problems and experience success as a team produces a measurable increase in the brain’s dopamine and serotonin levels, the neurotransmitters responsible for mood, sleep and memory. This boost in “happiness hormones” can also improve motivation and goal achievement, while lowering stress, workplace burnout, and symptoms of depression. This is part of the reason that employees of companies who utilize the Servant Leadership method report higher levels of job satisfaction in addition to increased performance, creativity, and innovation compared to those who don’t.
  2. Accountability: Under the Servant Leadership model, employees feel supported as they pursue the achievement of clearly-defined goals as a team. This “we’re all in this together” approach makes each individual feel responsible for the success of the collective, resulting in increased productivity and more efficient goal achievement. No wonder so many powerful corporations point to Servant Leadership as their secret to success.
  3. Physical Benefits: People who devote just 100 hours per year to improving the lives of others demonstrate lower mortality rates than those who don’t, and are less likely to develop high blood pressure, dementia, heart disease, and chronic illness. When a Servant Leader is devoted to the advancement of his or her team, everyone wins.
  4. Attract Top Talent — and Keep Them:
    Perhaps the most compelling reason for employers to encourage an ethos of Servant Leadership was recently proven by new research from the Center for Talent Innovation. The evidence shows that high-achieving individuals, especially women, are motivated to choose a job based on whether a potential employer supports individual employee growth — both in the workplace and the community. What’s more, a company’s corporate social responsibility program was found to be a determining factor in employee turnover rates and self-reported levels of employee satisfaction, especially among millennials. In fact, large corporations like Ernst & Young and Cisco Systems Inc. have found Servant Leadership to be so beneficial that they now offer fellowship programs in which top-tier talents devote an entire year to working with a local nonprofit. After their servant leadership sabbatical, participants return to their original position with a renewed sense of purpose, place, and self.

Stay tuned for our next blog about the unique ways you can create a culture of Servant Leadership in your company!