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Servant Leadership Essay


Introduction

Whether it involves managing an office or a large retail outlet, the processes all remain the same wherein a manager must be able to balance the needs of the business, take into account current business trends, the culture of the organization he/she works for as well as the various nuances inherent in the employees he/she is tasked to supervise.

This is due to the fact that workplace environments at the present can be considered an amalgam of different types of employees ranging from different ethnicities and religious backgrounds to employees belonging to different age groups; all of which require different management styles in order to properly maximize their potential.

As indicated by Jaramillo et al. (2009), there are four characteristics that are in demand within present day technology oriented enterprises, namely: high market responsiveness, fast developments, low cost, and finally high levels of creativity, innovation and efficiency.

As such, through the work of Jaramillo et al. (2009), readers can come to the conclusion that what is necessary within any organization (large or small) is not only the ability to respond to market trends but the ability to grow and develop the loyalty of employees within the company so as to retain the necessary talent to successfully emerge in the global market place.

Technical teams are the backbone of any company wherein through the utilization of a variety of management practices a seamless integration of vertical and horizontal means of collaboration can be implemented in order to create a stable organizational structure for proper operations and product development.

By doing so, this ensures that present day firms can launch and grow their proprietary products enabling them to internationalize that much faster. Based on this, the only way such a method of collaboration and communication can be achieved is through proper leadership within an organization.

One way in which this can be achieved is through the servant leadership model which involves a delegation of responsibility and a “sharing of power” so to speak to other members of the organization wherein the manager or leader in question focuses on helping and developing employees in such a way that they are able to perform at the utmost of their capabilities.

This can be achieved by leaders within the organization taking a more “personal” approach of managing employees by utilizing aspects related to persuasion, stewardship, empathy, listening, awareness and conceptualization. Through the positive aspects of the servant leadership model, employees develop a form of intrinsic motivation in regards to their jobs and responsibilities at the company resulting in better rates of performance.

Autocratic, Laissez-Faire and servant leadership models

One factor that should be taken into consideration when it comes to management are the types of management styles that company managers apply when managing and training their respective employees.

What you have to understand is that there are variety of management styles currently in practice today ranging from the autocratic, to the Laissez-Faire and finally the servant leader ship style which focuses on developing an environment where the sharing of ideas is promoted.

Each type of management style results in different levels of employee reciprocity such as: their responsiveness to given situations, their ability to adapt to new problems and even their ability to improve themselves (Houglum, 2012). For example, autocratic leadership styles advocate a more “top-down” approach when it came to dealing with employees and meeting company goals.

Basically, such an approach focused less on employee empowerment and more on the delegation of tasks and their subsequent completion with little outside input. The Laissez-Faire style on the other hand advocates a less hands on approach and allows employees to do as they will; however, it is lacking in direct supervision and, as such, does not create sufficient goal driven work for employees within the company.

In comparison, the servant leadership model focuses on employee empowerment yet also does incorporate proper supervision and management aspects by creating goal driven work resulting in the employees working towards helping the company achieve its end goals (Houglum, 2012).

Companies need to take into consideration what management styles are currently in place and how do they relate to what they want in terms of talent management. Do they want employees that are robotic and respond in a manner that is dictated step by step by the company as seen in the autocratic leadership style?

Or do they want employees that are creative and imaginative resulting in the development of possible solutions for current internal problems (as seen in the servant leadership model)? It is questions such as these that bring up the issue of implementing proper management styles within a company in order to ensure that management practices are implemented in such a way that it is in accordance with what it wants its employees to become.

It must also be noted that some management styles unfairly use the situations of employees in order to derive every single ounce of performance out of them while at the same time paying them a mere pittance. This can come in the form of environmentally damaging practices or employee abuse. The reason this is important is due to the fact overlooking such factors is highly unethical and would reflect badly on the company if discovered.

What you have to understand is that all the negative factors indicated within this section are indicative of company management practices that actually result in adverse effects on a company’s talent pool. The more unethical a company’s internal practices are the more likely it is that performance levels would drop and the rate of employee churn would increase resulting in a considerable degree of talent loss for the company.

For example, practices involving the autocratic leadership style which involve making an employee work harder than they should, employ ethically dubious methods of operation as well as other similar factors are actually detrimental to talent management practices since they either create a situation where employees are more likely to leave the company or the company would develop employees that are distinctly unethical in their own method of working.

On the other hand, the Laissez-Faire management style gives employees the impression that managers simply do not care resulting in an insufficient level of proper supervision which creates the potential for complacency.

It is based on this that any examination of a company regarding its management practices should involve the manner in which they treat their workers and nature of the ethical codes of conduct of the company. As explained by Harper (2012) ethically sound companies are able to retain workers more effectively and develop better talent pools since such practices encourage employees to stay with the company due to the overall positive regard for the company’s practices.

As such, the delegation of responsibility and “sharing of power” seen in the servant leadership model presents itself as an ideal alternative to the autocratic and Laissez-Faire management styles since it enables managers to be more hands on while at the same time entrusts empowers employees to make accomplish their tasks in a manner that they see would be the most effective.

What is Bank of America?

Bank of America (BoA) currently has 262,812 employees and encompasses 5,600 banking centers which cater to 57 million consumers. It is one of the largest banks in the world and is the third biggest company in the world which shows just how large and all encompassing such an organization is in terms of its financial and economic impact on the global economy.

The current goal of the company is to become the bank of choice both locally and abroad, however, it has been embroiled as of late in multiple management scandals which revealed the need for better management practices within the company (The BofA Mortgage Settlement Fiasco, 2010).

How servant leadership can be applied to Bank of America

Servant leadership can be applied to Bank of America by changing the current management styles being utilized by its leadership structure by retraining them to think utilizing the servant leadership model.

Servant leadership vision and accomplishing the goals of the organization

An examination of recent literature examining the causes of low morale within Bank of America and other similar financial institutions reveals that in most cases poor leadership is the main cause of the problem.

This can come in various forms such as a manager that does not try to establish sufficient rapport with employees, neglecting to address particular issues in the work place or a form of management style that employees have an adverse reaction to. Suffice it to say, it is an established fact that adverse management styles affect employees negatively which has been shown to impact their overall performance.

Studies examining varying degrees of employee performance across several different companies reveal that employees performing the same type of job yet having different kinds of managers actually results in differing productivity results. Employees with a manager that attempts to establish sufficient rapport, delegates responsibility appropriately and commends hard work have been shown to have increased levels of efficiency and quality and compared to employees who are under managers that are distinctly close-minded, standoffish and do not take outside opinions into account in their managerial decisions.

From a servant leadership point of view, it is assumed that positive reinforcement actually causes employees to look at their work from a decidedly progressive point of view and, as a result, creates a better working environment.

Managers that use management styles that are decidedly confrontational and forceful perpetuate decidedly negative working environments where employees become increasingly despondent with the type of work that they are doing. This results in decreasing levels of performance on the part of employees which is further compounded by instances of depression, work related anxiety and stress which culminates in high employee churn rates within particular companies.

One particular industry where this is the most evident is the banking industry located in the U.S. As evidenced by various studies examining high employee churn rates within particular banks, it was noticed that employees that were placed under an overly strict and distinctly close-minded team leader often suffered decreased levels of performance and performed poorly in meeting specific bank metrics.

On the other hand, agents that were placed under a team leader that was more open, friendly and delegated responsibility throughout the team further enhancing each position resulted in increased performance, lower employee churn rates and showed a distinct improvement in being able to meet the set metrics of the company.

From the details that have been presented in this section, it can be seen that by implementing the servant leadership model in the Bank of America, this can improve the overall performance of the bank by creating a workplace environment that facilitates better communication and collaboration among employees, a more positive outlook towards work, and lower churn rates. All of this translates into better performance for the bank since it loses fewer employees and can derive a higher level of performance from its various teams.

Implementing servant leadership within the organization

In order to resolve the issue of bad management practices causing low employee morale within the bank, there are four distinct changes through the servant leadership model that should be implemented in order to create a positive work environment and thus improve quality and efficiency.

Creating Better Rapport between Upper Management and Lower Tier Employees

The first is creating a sufficient connection between upper management and lower level employees. It has been noted by numerous studies that there is an inherent need for employees to feel connected to management.

This takes the form of managers actively showing that they know just how the employee contributes to the entirety of the company’s performance. Not only that, this also involves informing employees that upper management is there to help employees should they encounter problems that they are not familiar with or require further assistance in completing (Boone & Makhani, 2012).

It must also be noted that one of the requirements in creating better connections with employees is spending time with them in the form of regular idea sharing meeting, lunches or other forms of interaction that encourage the development of an environment where thoughts and ideas are freely shared in between different levels of the company hierarchy.

Employee Recognition

The second change that should be implemented is creating sufficient methods of recognition for employees for the type of work that they do. Various studies examining employee attitudes towards work reveal that on average employees want recognition and a certain degree of acknowledgement for the type of work that they do (Umlas, 2013).

While this can take the form of varying types of recognition such as certificates or events where they are recognized, it is more important to utilize such a method by making employees feel like they are worth something or that they are special (Chonko & Roberts, 2009).

All too often in certain companies it has been noted that increased levels of employee churn and depression are often connected with the fact that they feel like they are nothing more than a number in a book, unappreciated and unknown. By establishing various methods of recognition this creates positive forms of encouragement for employees which makes their jobs much more tolerable and even increases their quality and productivity in light of the type of recognition they received (Umlas, 2013).

What must also be understood is that from the servant leadership model point of view, acknowledgement acts as a positive reinforcement of work place attitudes which helps to encourage employees to be better at their jobs despite receiving the same type of pay.

It is due to this that relationship management companies such as Convergys often recommend companies to establish various means of employee recognition beyond mere financial compensation so as to induce greater levels positive reinforcement and thus encourage better employee performance.

Creating Work Variability and Leadership Roles

The third type of change that should be implemented in order to improve work place practices is to challenge employees by giving them different roles and tasks in order to improve on the drudgery of everyday work practice. This is done by having employees take on distinct leadership roles for certain tasks, giving them different tasks which challenge their knowledge or enable them to acquire new skills which would open new career paths in future.

Such actions often involves instilling a sense of trust into employees wherein managers communicate that they trust the employee to do the job hence the fact they are giving it to them (Chonko & Roberts, 2009). By doing so this encourages greater employee interest in their job and creates a workforce that has greater knowledge on an assortment of skills which would definitely improve quality and performance levels in workplace environments.

Stakeholders who would be advocates or supporters

Stakeholders who would probably support such an initiative would come in the form of the stockholders of the bank would see the servant leadership model as both a way of increasing the bank’s performance as well as preventing future scandals from occurring.

Potential challenges or obstacles

One of the potential problems that might occur when it comes to implementing servant leadership within Bank of America is determining the degree of resistance from employees that might occur as a direct result of its implementation (Rezaei et al., 2012).

Humans are creatures of habit in that they enjoy daily routines and standards of procedure that do not constantly change on a daily basis, it is only in instances that change is introduced that it is met with significant resistance due to the inherent desire to keep things as they were. Such a case is often seen in various corporations wherein changes implemented by the company is often met with significant resistance due to the desire of employees to retain the operational procedures that they have grown accustomed to (Rezaei et al., 2012).

What you have to understand is that when employees are exposed to a particular procedural element for daily operations over an extended period of time they develop a certain sense of complacency in that they tend to prefer the current way of doing business. Not only that, it is often the case that employees are often not informed as to why specific changes are occurring in the first place which results in them feeling threatened.

The end result is that employees tend to associate change within the company as having the potential for them to lose their jobs as a direct result of the changes being implemented. For example, it was noted by the study of ( ) that employees in certain companies tended to oppose certain degrees of automation involving internal operational processes due to the perception that such changes would eliminate the need for their job.

Even if such changes would make their jobs easier changes within the company still continued to be met with significant degrees of skepticism and fear. It should also be noted that psychological resistance to change occurs not only in employees but in managers as well. It is often the case that managers fear change due to the fact that they fear losing power over their employees.

Managers perceive change as a negatively impacting their autonomy over their work place environments and the various factors that they have control over. In fact, it is at times perceived as a direct attack on the managers themselves despite the fact that nothing could be farther from the truth. It should also be noted that managers resist such changes due to their perception that they may lose their jobs as a direct result.

What must be understood is that change often comes with the implementation of new practices that managers may or may not be able to sufficiently cope up with. As such, those who are under the belief that they would be unable to adapt to the new changes are the most resistant to them being implemented since it would be likely that they would be replaced by another person that has the necessary capacity to implement the changes as need be.

It should also be noted that managers often suffer from the same perception regarding complacency and, as a result, are often skeptical when changes are implemented within the company. They often view such changes as completely unnecessary with the potential of negatively impact the status quo within the office.

Resolving the Issues

One way of rectifying this situation is to help ease employees into an understanding of what they are getting into. Rather than presenting employees with a reward (i.e. a salary bonuses and benefits) managers should inform them truthfully of what a particular change in their workplace environment entails and give them a brief overview of its positive and negative elements.

The point is not to create any set expectations but rather to ease employees into making their own choices and decisions. Human choice is actually a contributing factor towards performance since in instances where people were given a choice of actions, no matter how negative the outcome, performance levels did not decrease as much as compared to instances where people were either not given a choice or were given a false set of assumptions.

Annotated Bibliography

The BofA Mortgage Settlement Fiasco. (2010). Nation, 291(18), 21.

Focuses on the financial institution Bank of America (BofA) and a scandal involving forged mortgage documents. Shows problems with the company’s management structure.

Umlas, J. W. (2013). Grateful leadership: Using the power of acknowledgment to engage all your people and achieve superior results. Canadian Manager, 38(2), 18.

Discusses the concept of grateful leadership and shows how acknowledgement can boost employee performance resulting in better company performance in the long run.

Rezaei, M., Salehi, S., Shafiei, M., & Sabet, S. (2012). Servant leadership and organizational trust: The mediating effect of the leader trust and organizational communication. EMAJ: Emerging Markets Journal, 1(1), 70-78.

Shows the relationship between servant leadership and trust of employees in the organization. Proves various assertions related to the need to create job satisfaction which would result in better employees.

Jaramillo, F., Grisaffe, D. B., Chonko, L. B., & Roberts, J. A. (2009). Examining the impact of servant leadership on salesperson’s turnover intention. Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 29(4), 351-365.

This study directly reveals how servant leadership can have a positive effect on the ability of a company to increase its overall level of performance. It showcases quantifiable evidence which justifies the assertions made in the paper.

Harper, S. (2012). The Leader Coach: A Model of Multi-Style Leadership. Journal Of Practical Consulting, 4(1), 22-31.

This article show cases the different types of leadership styles and their results in terms of employee engagement and company performance. It shows hoe servant leadership is more effective for larger organizations such as Bank of America.

Chonko, L. B., & Roberts, J. A. (2009). Examining the impact of servant leadership on sales force performance. Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 29(3), 257-275.

This article shows how the performance of employees can be directly impacted by servant leadership through great levels of empowerment and the establishment of leadership initiatives.

Boone, L. W., & Makhani, S. (2012). Five Necessary Attitudes of a Servant Leader. Review Of Business, 33(1), 83-96.

This paper showcases how the servant leadership model is an effective method in focusing employees in meeting the goals of the company.

Houglum, D. T. (2012). Myth-Busters: Traditional And Emergent Leadership. Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 14(2), 25-39.

This paper explains the various “myths” associated with leadership and showcases the various positive and negative impacts of different types of leadership models.

Reference List

Boone, L. W., & Makhani, S. (2012). Five Necessary Attitudes of a Servant Leader. Review Of Business, 33(1), 83-96.

Chonko, L. B., & Roberts, J. A. (2009). Examining the impact of servant leadership on sales force performance. Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 29(3), 257-275.

Harper, S. (2012). The Leader Coach: A Model of Multi-Style Leadership. Journal Of Practical Consulting, 4(1), 22-31.

Houglum, D. T. (2012). Myth-Busters: Traditional And Emergent Leadership. Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 14(2), 25-39.

Jaramillo, F., Grisaffe, D. B., Chonko, L. B., & Roberts, J. A. (2009). Examining the impact of servant leadership on salesperson’s turnover intention. Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 29(4), 351-365.

Rezaei, M., Salehi, S., Shafiei, M., & Sabet, S. (2012). Servant leadership and organizational trust: The mediating effect of the leader trust and organizational communication. EMAJ: Emerging Markets Journal, 1(1), 70-78.

The BofA Mortgage Settlement Fiasco. (2010). Nation, 291(18), 21.

Umlas, J. W. (2013). Grateful leadership: Using the power of acknowledgment to engage all your people and achieve superior results. Canadian Manager, 38(2), 18.

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IvyPanda. "Servant Leadership." January 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/servant-leadership/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Servant Leadership." January 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/servant-leadership/.

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