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Topics: Leadership
Preferred Leadership Style
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The PMBOK lists several different Leadership styles (PMBOX 6th Edition, section 3.4.5.1). I'm particularly interested in Servant Leadership since it's is the preferred style of my organization and it works quite well for us.

My question to you: Do you use elements of a Servant Leader style? If so, in what ways? What has the benefit been to you and your team? If not, what is your primary leadership style, and why?
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Servant leadership is my preferred leadership style, and I typically enact its principles by doing whatever I can to help my teams work as efficiently as possible. For example, Information Technology Engineers generally dislike creating documentation and reports, but such are necessary within any business. I noted how much time the Engineers were spending creating reports, so I made some time to design a task tracker in which the Engineers could enter technical notes regarding their projects. I then arranged for Management to refer to this tracker for progress information. Now the Engineers spend a fraction of the time they previously spent creating reports, and the tracker has the added benefit of letting them easily check the progress of other projects within our group.
The primary benefit I’ve seen servant leadership provide has been motivating people to act for the good for the group instead of just themselves. Creating the tracker required extra work on my part, but I believe when my team saw what I did for them, they became more willing to extend themselves on others’ behalf. This has improved our communication and made our work environment a more enjoyable place, and together this has increased our overall productivity.
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1 reply by Jodi Quillen
Feb 28, 2019 10:18 AM
Jodi Quillen
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Excellent example - thanks! I totally agree with your statement about the servant leadership style providing more motivation for people to act for the good for the team, and have seen it in action in small teams as well as large cross-departmental efforts.
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Servant Leadership is the best to deal with young people. They are fresh graduates and do not know the real world problems. First take team in the confidence and then you can exatrct their full potential but at time you have to be authoritative. I hope it helps you in your day to day work.
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1 reply by Jodi Quillen
Feb 28, 2019 10:32 AM
Jodi Quillen
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That's a good observation, Ashutosh - you're right. The servant leadership style naturally leads to mentoring of less experienced team members. Of course, there are times on any project that a more authoritative tone must be taken, but it it's done within the frame of servant leadership ("Hey, we have to complete this task right away and this is why .... What is blocking you from completion? How can I help clear that block?), the trust can be maintained and usually forward momentum can continue. Thanks!
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I can recall the approach of servant leadership was popularized by Robert Greenleaf in 1970 in his book The Servant as Leader. Personally, I had served as a project manager for many years before I ever learned that there was a name for the natural style that I took to managing projects. I think it really gets down to a simple practical mindset that drives the beliefs, phrases, and decisions of an efficient project leader. It is a mindset of "service-first" and not "myself-first."

I believe that the servant leadership approach to project management gives you the best shot of doing the right work, the right way, for the right stakeholders. As you can see this style "just makes sense".

In a project environment, where you are stakeholder-oriented, where you must trust yourself, where you must effectively collaborate with others to get work done, and where you must completely understand the needs and requirements of your clients to deliver the right solution, it just seems to be a very practical road to take.

To me, it is a people approach for any organization (or project) that values strong customer-service and team-focused approaches in their leaders.

Some key features of this mindset:

Demonstrate a solid service-orientation; lead by spreading service to others
Highlight listening, patience, respect, and responsiveness
Take the point of view of others; keep the best interest of others
Take in responsibility; takes initiative
Promote collaboration and trust; empowers team members, the ethical use of power
tip: When dealing with people, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting and a humble style.
Looks for growth and improvement in all team members, organization, and around
Prompts for input and constant feedback from all stakeholders; especially in decision-making (game fairy) process
Encourage the use of skills to influence and persuade (not manipulate!)
Document what went right and wrong and learned from that to not stumble on the same stone in the upcoming project

A servant-leadership mindset is not an "all-or-nothing" approach. The purpose is to do your best, continue to learn and work to improve along the way, just like the other skill set areas.
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Servant leadership is the new norm and its getting prominence due to Agile methodolgy. Many of the PSU/Govt organisations follow other/previous leadership styles and I don't think servant leadership fits into the system.
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1 reply by Jodi Quillen
Feb 28, 2019 11:04 AM
Jodi Quillen
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Hi Rajesh - I was wondering if someone would bring Agile up - I totally agree with you. You also make a good point about government projects. Many years ago, I worked on a government healthcare project as a private sector consultant. Our PM was a very talented people manager and used a servant leader approach with the project team while responding to her government employers in their preferred style. It must have been a difficult balance for her, but she ensured that we finished our engagement on time and within budget - very successful outcome for all involved!
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Servant leadership is my choice.
As a servant leader, you're a "servant first" – you focus on the needs of others, especially team members, before you consider your own. You acknowledge other people's perspectives, give them the support they need to meet their work and personal goals, involve them in decisions where appropriate, and build a sense of community within your team. This leads to higher engagement, more trust, and stronger relationships with team members and other stakeholders. It can also lead to increased innovation.
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1 reply by Jodi Quillen
Feb 28, 2019 2:44 PM
Jodi Quillen
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To have an team that trusts one another is a very powerful thing, and trust opens the door to creative problem solving and innovation! Thanks, Shadav!
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generally, I use a combination of different styles based on project, situation, organization and etc.
Network:632



Feb 27, 2019 9:46 PM
Replying to Eric Simms
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Servant leadership is my preferred leadership style, and I typically enact its principles by doing whatever I can to help my teams work as efficiently as possible. For example, Information Technology Engineers generally dislike creating documentation and reports, but such are necessary within any business. I noted how much time the Engineers were spending creating reports, so I made some time to design a task tracker in which the Engineers could enter technical notes regarding their projects. I then arranged for Management to refer to this tracker for progress information. Now the Engineers spend a fraction of the time they previously spent creating reports, and the tracker has the added benefit of letting them easily check the progress of other projects within our group.
The primary benefit I’ve seen servant leadership provide has been motivating people to act for the good for the group instead of just themselves. Creating the tracker required extra work on my part, but I believe when my team saw what I did for them, they became more willing to extend themselves on others’ behalf. This has improved our communication and made our work environment a more enjoyable place, and together this has increased our overall productivity.
Excellent example - thanks! I totally agree with your statement about the servant leadership style providing more motivation for people to act for the good for the team, and have seen it in action in small teams as well as large cross-departmental efforts.
Network:632



Feb 27, 2019 11:15 PM
Replying to Ashutosh Trivedi
...
Servant Leadership is the best to deal with young people. They are fresh graduates and do not know the real world problems. First take team in the confidence and then you can exatrct their full potential but at time you have to be authoritative. I hope it helps you in your day to day work.
That's a good observation, Ashutosh - you're right. The servant leadership style naturally leads to mentoring of less experienced team members. Of course, there are times on any project that a more authoritative tone must be taken, but it it's done within the frame of servant leadership ("Hey, we have to complete this task right away and this is why .... What is blocking you from completion? How can I help clear that block?), the trust can be maintained and usually forward momentum can continue. Thanks!
Network:632



Feb 27, 2019 11:40 PM
Replying to RAJESH K L
...
Servant leadership is the new norm and its getting prominence due to Agile methodolgy. Many of the PSU/Govt organisations follow other/previous leadership styles and I don't think servant leadership fits into the system.
Hi Rajesh - I was wondering if someone would bring Agile up - I totally agree with you. You also make a good point about government projects. Many years ago, I worked on a government healthcare project as a private sector consultant. Our PM was a very talented people manager and used a servant leader approach with the project team while responding to her government employers in their preferred style. It must have been a difficult balance for her, but she ensured that we finished our engagement on time and within budget - very successful outcome for all involved!
Network:3512



Servant Leadership really works, especially with the new generation of team members. The other styles may not work with these techy savvy teams
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