Servant Leadership: Is This The Management Style Gen Z Responds to Best?

Do you work for your team, or does your team work for you? Managers who take the former approach could also be described as servant leaders - those who elevate and empower their employees by putting their team’s needs above their own.

This style of leadership first gained popularity in the 1970s, but it’s enjoying a resurgence as most workplaces adjust to shifting demographics and talent shortages.

What exactly is servant leadership?

It’s helpful to start by defining servant leadership in terms of what it’s not. This management philosophy doesn’t mean picking up the slack from employees who aren’t pulling their weight, covering for less-able members of the team, or becoming a pushover who says yes to every task.

Instead, servant leaders know when it’s time to join their team in the trenches, pitching in to make sure everyone has what they need and projects are done. It’s hands-on, rather than hands-off, but not to the extent that employees feel they can take advantage.

These managers facilitate, negotiate, and remove any barriers to their team’s productivity. This is a compassionate, collaborative form of leadership, leading from within rather than at the front of the pack. 

Common characteristics of servant leaders include:

  • Empathy
  • Humility
  • Selflessness
  • Compassion
  • A desire to mentor, coach and guide employees

The benefits of serving while leading

Servant leadership gets results. Project managers with servant leadership skills are 15% more effective at delivering project business outcomes than those without them, according to Gartner.

Research shows that it also increases employee satisfaction and performance as workers feel more supported and motivated. 

With a people-first mindset, managers can also reduce the risk of conflict and improve employee wellness. Servant leadership builds trust among teams and, with its focus on collaborative participation, helps prevent individual team members from burning out under pressure.

What’s behind the rise of servant leadership?

Servant leadership is growing in popularity for two major reasons - firstly, the influx of younger generations into the workforce and, secondly, because of the prolonged labor shortages affecting many sectors.

For companies struggling to hire qualified candidates, it makes sense to focus on the team you have. By mentoring and guiding your employees, you’re giving them the skills they need to advance in their careers and move up the company ladder. Employees feel valued and managers have a ready pool of in-house talent - it’s a win-win. 

Servant leadership is particularly effective at motivating your younger employees. Gen Z responds well to this style of leadership as it neatly aligns with their core priorities - diversity and inclusion, a healthy work-life balance, and professional development. It’s also an effective strategy for millennials, appealing to this generation's need for respect, community, and a better work-life balance. 

Everyone in your office can benefit from the servant leadership model, from senior staff to junior workers. This is the kind of management that uplifts everyone. It’s the polar opposite of micromanagement and other corrosive leadership styles, turning managers into team players rather than authoritarian task masters.

But you can’t be a team player until you know what your team needs. Employee productivity monitoring solution Prodoscore enables managers to empower their employees by providing real-time data on how they’re interacting with company tools. Leaders can see at a glance who is falling behind and who is headed for burnout so they know exactly when to step in and lend their support.

The easy-to-use dashboard complies and categorizes this data to give teams and individuals a productivity score that’s tracked over time. This allows leaders to monitor performance trends and deliver data-driven mentoring and coaching. Get in touch today to schedule a demonstration or find out more.

How will visibility impact your business?