Have you ever thought about the influence of leadership on your professional life or your personal life? If not, now might be the time to think about leadership and its impact on your life. As you know, there are countless books and articles on leadership, so many that it is confusing. Is a good leader a person that knows what to do in any situation and tells you what to do? Or is a good leader one that says, “You can only learn by sinking or swimming, so get in there and do it now”? In your opinion, what makes a good leader? There may be as many opinions on leadership as there are books and articles on leadership.
Although there are numerous books on leadership with disagreement in the literature on the best type of leadership education, there are two types of leaders that may profoundly influence people’s personal and professional lives: servant leaders and toxic leaders. We have all dealt with toxic leaders that exercise the command and control method of leadership. They make life miserable; you cannot do anything right no matter how hard you try. They issue commands and make sure you know the consequences if you do not function as they tell you—essentially command and control. They influence people in negative ways. Some characteristics of toxic leaders are:
- Ridiculing followers and telling them (or others) they are incompetent;
- Being inconsiderate of followers’ commitments outside of work;
- Controlling how followers complete tasks;
- Making all decisions within a team whether they are important or not;
- Believing they are more capable than others;
- Denying responsibility for mistakes and accepting credit for successes of others;
- Having explosive outbursts and varying in their degree of approachability; and
- Pitting others against one another. (Hinshaw, 2020; Schmidt, 2008)
According to Hinshaw (2020), toxic leaders are more concerned with their ego, power, and prestige than making sure their followers have everything they need to do their jobs well. Research indicates that people who follow toxic leaders are unhappy in their careers and are more likely to experience more stress, physical and emotional illnesses, and are more likely to participate in unproductive workplace behaviors (Hinshaw, 2020). Have you been in these situations in your personal or professional life? Although you love your job, you may think about leaving because you are so miserable.
A servant leader is the opposite of the “command and control” leadership style and provides opportunities for their followers to grow and develop in their professional and personal lives. Servant leaders desire to serve others and view leadership as a way to serve on a larger scale. Their influence is positive, and their followers are healthier (mentally and physically) and often develop the desire to serve others (Hinshaw, 2020). Some characteristics of a servant leader include:
- Being honest, trustworthy, authentic, and humble;
- Leading in a way that allows followers to grow;
- Expressing care and concern for followers;
- Listening deeply and honestly to understand;
- Valuing and encouraging collaboration;
- Creating and articulating a shared connection;
- Utilizing systems-thinking to connect systems with ethical issues and challenges; and
- Leading with moral authority and ethical bounds. (Hinshaw, 2020; Sipe & Frick, 2015)
Servant leaders emphasize serving people first by listening with empathy, collaborating, communicating, encouraging systems thinking, and using power judicially and ethically (Tanno & Banner, 2018). By doing these things, servant leaders increase teamwork and improve outcomes. Servant leaders have much better results when leading an organization through change than toxic leaders. Ironically, servant leaders often move up the career ladder and are usually healthier than those leaders who are command and control leaders (Tanno & Banner, 2018).
What type of leader are you? Learning to be a servant leader may improve your health and will undoubtedly help your colleagues in the workplace and improve your personal and home life. And if you have a toxic leader or manager in your life, encourage them to do some reading on servant leadership!
Hinshaw, S. (2020). Learning about the true power of leadership by comparing servant leadership to
toxic leadership. Faculty Focus. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/academic-leadership/learning-about-the-true-power-of-leadership-by-comparing-servant-leadership-to-toxic-leadership/
Schmidt, A. A. (2008). Development and validation of the Toxic Leadership Scale, Master’s thesis,
University of Maryland. https://hdl.handle.net/1903/8176
Sipe, J.W., & Frick, D.M. (2015). Seven pillars of servant leadership: Practicing the wisdom of leading by
serving. Paulist Press.
Tanno, J. P., & Banner, D. K. (2018). Servant Leaders as Change Agents. Journal of Social Change, 10(1).
Posted on 01 Jan 2021, 10:31 - Category: We The People