Servant Leadership

#LeadandLift | Episode 46 | Jason Wyatt

Imagine that you’re rowing a boat with your team in your organization, company, or even family. How would you get them to move forward? Would you, as the leader, shout: “Row faster! Work harder”?

There’s a saying, commonly attributed to an old Swahili Proverb, that says, “a boat doesn't go forward if each one is rowing their own way”.

It’s not enough to work hard, or to work faster, or more efficiently. Your people need direction and support. To be a leader means to unite the team in one purpose, to get them rowing in the same direction, and to support them in whatever they need to be able to succeed in their role.

There’s a big difference between a manager and a servant leader. A manager tells their people what to do and then leaves them to do the work. A leader is in the trenches with their team, running side by side with them, supporting, leading, and guiding all the way through to the solution or to progress.

 "A servant leader is one who takes care of the team. They are the one who sees that the team has a goal and helps the team to reach that goal through support, direction, sometimes just vision casting." —  Jason Wyatt


There are two powerful benefits to practicing servant leadership in the workplace:

  1. You’ll be able to retain more people. If you want to be rational about the growth and upkeep of your organization, then acknowledge that getting new talent and training them is more expensive than just retaining the people you already have. When you practice caring for your people genuinely, it’s not surprising that they’ll want to stay and do their best for the organization.
  2. It sounds like common-sense, but you’d be surprised as to how many leaders don’t know this: supporting and caring for your people will inspire them and motivate them to do better in their role. It improves the organization’s overall capability to create solutions when you bring the opinions and ideas of your team members together.


The solution is already in the room, it’s in the team’s collective genius. Your job as a leader is to bring about that idea from the minds of your team and create the most optimal solution possible.

“Having a servant leader there pull the team together, identify that the wisdom to solve the problem is in the room... it really creates that positive environment that a lot of people want to be a part of” - Chabidaye Jaglal Ramnath


When the boat is not moving forward, who’s fault is it? This is a trick question, because the way forward is to skip the blame game.


Growth is cultivated in an environment of positivity and safety.

You as the leader must inspire accountability and responsibility in your team but you must never risk shutting someone down by blaming them or worse, shaming them in front of other team members for making a mistake. Give them a safe space to admit their mistakes and give them the chance to make up for it.



Whatever you may feel about your team right now, remember that you are in the same boat. The only way to win is to row together as a team.


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