Reading on the internet I came across this proud CEO who posted that servant leadership is core to his company culture. I was extremely excited to keep reading and maybe learn a thing or two about servant leadership but I was disappointed when he continued to explain that extreme accountability is key for success. What does accountability have to do with servant leadership?
Google search says that accountability “refers to an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions”. Every role we have in our life comes with responsibilities, when we accept the role, we also accept the responsibilities coming with it. Most of the time accountability is understood as meeting the goals, get the work done efficiently and effectively but when you are a leader there is more to it.
Traditional leadership focuses on the success of the organization but servant leadership focus is much broader. Efficient and effective operations with an excellent record of customer satisfaction are not possible unless we take care of the people. Servant leaders understand that they are accountable for their actions, including their own development and the development of their people. Creating an environment where people flourish is key. Here are two examples, Toyota and Barry Wehmiller.
Toyota leaders must take responsibility for driving Toyota towards perfection. They believe their success is the result of developing everyone and believing that employees are the most precious asset. Not everybody has the talent, skills or desire to become a manager but certainly, everybody has the right to have a fair shot at it if they want to. With its development program, Toyota does that. Leaders enable subordinates to be successful in improving everything by learning and practicing the Toyota core values: respect, teamwork, a spirit of challenge, kaizen mind and, go and see to deeply understand. All these are opportunities for growth, in and out of the workplace.
Barry Wehmiller measures success by the way they touch people’s lives. Their business model fosters personal growth by creating an environment that is based on trust, allows for teams and individuals to have a meaningful role, challenge them, inspires a sense of pride, liberates everyone to realize “true success” and celebrates the best in each individual.
Servant leadership is not just about employee appreciation lunches, summer picnics, Christmas parties, a wide range of training or no reserved parking spaces for managers. We need to start investing in the lives of our employees, create a positive impact. If we really care, we have to walk the talk, just training is not enough.