Gain respect and trust with the Servant Leadership mindset

BusinessManagement

  • Author Crystal Fisher
  • Published September 10, 2021
  • Word count 808

Joining an organization where you are expected to manage an established team can be difficult. You are often battling bias, skepticism, and maybe even resentment. Not to mention, you may be competing with the glorified memory of the previous manager or are now managing a team member who also applied for your position. All that to say, that 9 times out of 10, the cards are stacked against you when you walk into a situation like this. So how do you overcome the beginning awkwardness and difficulties to create a cohesive team that wants to work with you? The first thing to recognize is that respect and trust take time to build. It will not happen overnight. It must be earned. And one of the best ways to do this is by adopting the Servant Leadership style of managing. This method can be an effective way to increase morale, collaboration, and productivity – by prioritizing the individuals rather than the company at large. Simply put, this approach can go a long way towards establishing the respect and trust of your team.

The term Servant Leadership was first coined in the 70s and remains a relevant hot topic in today’s business world. A great book that really goes into depth on this concept is “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek, and I highly recommend checking it out. But for now, here are 5 ways to implement this strategy:

  1. Establish credibility

First things first – Only speak authoritatively on topics of which you have experience or knowledge. The “fake it until you make it” mantra is not a good one to have when you are joining a new team, especially if they have been working in the space longer than you. Remember that you don’t have to be an expert on everything (that’s why you have a team!). It is your job as a leader to understand each team member’s strengths, and by showing compassion and sharing your expectations, you’ll establish a solid foundation.

  1. Use the “royal we”

You have probably heard the phrase “praise in public, criticize in private.” While this is an important tactic to adopt, it is even more critical that your team knows that you have their backs. Using language like “we” and “us” when presenting new directives or in taking negative feedback from the bigger organization will further enforce that feeling of togetherness. By fostering collaboration among the team members, you convey the message that “we succeed together, and we grow together.”

  1. Be willing to get your hands dirty

The greatest way to earn respect and trust is by showing your team that you aren’t afraid to do the hard work. Break down the construct that leaders sit in ivory towers and only bark orders. Your willingness to work alongside them occasionally will further enforce the idea that you have their backs and that you understand the work they are doing. Empathy goes a long way in building a relationship.

  1. Pump the breaks on the toxic positivity

Sure, creating a positive environment directly leads to having a healthy team morale. However, it must be authentic and takes time to create. Team members want to feel supported, heard, and valued. This cannot be accomplished by simply bringing donuts in on Fridays and keeping a smile plastered on your face during each conversation. If the effort is disingenuous then every small act will be interpreted as a poor attempt to “buy loyalty” and have the team skeptical of your true motives.

  1. Don’t make drastic changes too early

Finally, it is important to recognize the established culture of the team. It may be toxic or different than you are used to, and you may have even been hired to change it. However, it is important to understand the underlying reasons of the culture. Coming in and changing things too quickly can be perceived as an “outsider” trespassing in an area they don’t belong. This can create a wedge of “us” versus “them” mentality and undermine any progress or trust that may have started to develop. When it is time to implement a change, be sure to communicate the “why” behind the decision and gather feedback and ideas on how the change can be rolled out successfully. Remember, your team wants to feel included and heard.

While there is certainly no singular way to manage, this is one philosophy that has been extensively researched in Forbes and adopted by major companies such as Google and Starbucks. Being a leader is often a delicate tight rope act and not for the faint of heart, as you may be dealing with multiple personalities and stylistic differences. It may be appropriate to change management styles, depending on the situation. However, mastering the art of relationship building and Servant Leadership is will prove to be beneficial in every job market.

Crystal Fisher is a Nashville-based freelance content writer with a voracious appetite for adventure. She has spent the entirety of her adult life dedicated to humanitarianism and feeding the soul through writing, traveling, and working for various non-profit organizations. She has 14 years of progressive management experience and enjoys mentoring others.

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