Servant Leadership is about WE not ME.

Ken Blanchard Companies held a recent webinar to a global audience hosted by David Witt where Randy Conley and Ken Blanchard shared their thoughts on how a Servant Leadership mindset can help provide the needs and wants of a multi-generational workforce.

In 2018, Gallup asked what Gen Z and Millennials what they looked for most in an employer:

Young Millennials & Gen Z: 


Older Millennials: 


Gen X: 


Baby Boomers: 


1. The organization cares about employees’ wellbeing. 1. The organization cares about employees’ wellbeing. 1. The organization’s leadership is ethical. 1. The organization’s leadership is ethical.
2. The organization’s leadership is ethical. 2. The organization’s leadership is ethical. 2. The organization cares about employees’ wellbeing. 2. The organization cares about employees’ wellbeing.
3. The organization is diverse and inclusive of all people. 3. The organization’s leadership is open and transparent. 3. The organization’s financial stability. 3. The organization’s financial stability.

Key findings discovered that:

  1. Above all, Gen Z and millennials want an employer who cares about their wellbeing.
  2. Gen Z and millennials want their leaders to be ethical.
  3. Older millennials want open, transparent leaders.
  4. Gen Z and younger millennials want leaders who support a diverse and inclusive workplace.

The above four needs are wanted by all generations in the workplace, but they are prioritised differently for the different groups.

As 46% of todays workforce is made up of millennials and Gen Z, the leaders of today and tomorrow, it’s very important to know what they want out of their work.

It’s clear they want more than to just show up and do their job for a pay check.  They want to be nurtured, with a focus on wellbeing, a clear growth path, and an emphasis on open & transparent leadership.

Servant leadership can help provide what your workforce needs and wants.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what Servant Leadership means – it’s often thought of a ‘soft’ management.  Instead, it’s a really powerful way to get results and good relationships with any team.

There are three mindsets of Servant Leadership:

Building Community

A leaders’ role is finding the commonalities among a group of people and fostering those, while embracing the differences.  Leaders need to focus on building a community that people feel they are a part of – things are being done with them, not to them.

Thinking of Others First

This is the whole servant aspect – it’s not about you, it’s about them.  Egocentric leaders think all the brains are in their own office, but servant leaders believe they are part of a team, and that they are there to serve, not be served.

Turning the Pyramid Upside-down

There is two parts to servant leadership – the strategic part comes from the hierarchy.  This doesn’t mean leaders don’t involve their people in creating the company vision, purpose and values, but the responsibility relies with the leader.  Once the strategy is set, a servant leader turns the pyramid upside down, and works for their people by helping them win and bringing that vision to life.

When the pyramid is turned upside down, employees are responsible instead of being responsive to management.  The customer is now at the top, workers are serving the customer, managers are serving their frontline workers.

3 Essential Skills of a Servant Leader

Build Trust.  To build community, there must be trust.  When a leader trusts their people, they end up trusting them back.  Trust is based on behaviours used – people build or erode trust by the ways they act.

Listen to Learn.  If leaders want to really build a relationship with their people and create high performance, they really need to listen.   Listening is the key to being an effective servant leader.

Listening is the most powerful yet most underrated tool for leaders. 

Give/Receive Feedback.    How can anyone get better at a task without hearing what areas can use improvement?

Feedback is the breakfast of champions. 

Leaders need to be able to give feedback in a caring way, and receive it in a positive way also.  Giving feedback is both a science and an art.

The Art of Giving Feedback:

  • Be timely
  • Be thoughtful
  • Be nonjudgemental
  • Focus on moving forward
  • Be specific and descriptive
  • Be ready for a variety of outcomes
  • Check for clear agreement on goals, roles etc.

Catch people doing something right is one of my favourite sayings.   

Servant leadership applied to performance management

A leaders’ role is to help their people win and accomplish their goals.   There’s three parts to performance management:

  • Performance Planning
  • Coaching for Performance
  • Evaluating Performance

Performance Planning & Performance Evaluation get the most attention, but the most impact is found in the day to day coaching.

Leadership is a partnership

Servant leadership is a powerful approach to leadership as it’s about their people, and helping those people achieve their goals.

A leaders’ team should be looked at as their number one customer.  Those team members will then go out of their way to look after the company’s customers.

Profit is the applause for creating a motivating environment for your people, so they take care of your customers.