What makes a great leader? Perhaps it’s an endless supply of innovative ideas, a deep understanding of self and others, an uncanny ability to inspire a team, or an unwavering dedication towards the people around them. But if there’s one quality that the most effective leaders possess, it’s the ability to empower others.
While the term “servant leadership” was first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970, the best leaders of today are drawing inspiration from the concept to flip the traditional organizational pyramid and put their people before profit. Servant leaders use a passion for serving others and a holistic approach to work to drive bottom-line results while making a tremendous impact on the lives of those they lead.
Get inspired by three shining examples of leaders who consistently display a natural inclination towards serving others.
They say nice guys finish last. Sameer Dholakia, CEO of SendGrid, proves precisely the opposite. After joining the slow growth startup in 2014, Dholakia lead the charge to increase sales by 40% and raise $131 million during a successful IPO. The best part? He helped achieved this massive growth while remaining one of the highest rated chief executives in tech.
“Many leaders – if you look at their calendars, where they spend their time will be an indication of how they think about servant leadership,” says Dholakia, who spends about half of his working hours in meetings with the SendGrid team. This dedication towards serving his people continues to pay off-the SendGrid team is expecting to deliver up to $141 million in revenue in 2018.
Empathy is a key characteristic of servant leadership. Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, is well-known for her empathetic approach and leading with her people in mind. Each year, Nooyi sits down to hand write over 400 letters to the parents of her senior executives, expressing her gratitude and thanking them for the gift of their child to PepsiCo. Considering the fact that 69% of employees say they would work harder if they were more appreciated, this authentic act of service is likely to pay off for PepsiCo.
Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, is well-versed in servant leadership. In fact, she wrote a book about it: Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others. Her servant heart, however, goes far beyond her writing and was used to achieve over $1 billion in U.S. sales and quadrupled the stock during her time with the company.
She used a collaborative and attentive approach to serve the people who had invested in the most in the brand-the franchisees. By actively listening and responding to restaurant owners’ needs, Bachelder was able to improve the customer experience and turn the trajectory of the company on its heels. She is quoted with saying, “I must know you to grow you.”
Ready to leverage the power of servant leadership like they did? Learn more about The Leadership Mindset Series to get started on your journey.