How a “village spirit” can empower employees
In our increasingly disconnected and uncertain world, the values of security and community will guide the future of business leadership. The old style of profit-over-people leadership has been sunk in the sea of COVID. The flourishing leadership of the future will embrace the best of our collective humanity – compassion, support and connection. At first glance, these values may seem out of place in the business world, but research shows that these values create a deep sense of purpose, commitment and security.
These values are also the cornerstones of something else that draws us all deeply: village life. For thousands of years, humans have thrived in collaborative villages centered on working together and caring for each other. I believe our best future lies in the emotionally intelligent servant leadership principles of what I call the “village mindset.” Here are three ways to use it in your business.
1. Empower employees through servant leadership
Robert Greenleaf, the author of the original book on servant leadership, wrote, “The best leaders are clear. They continually light the way and in doing so let each person know that what they are doing is making a difference. The best test of being a leader is: do those who are served grow as people, do they become healthier, wiser, freer, more empowered, more likely to become leaders themselves? »
Sounds simple enough, right? But this is a monumental shift for many leaders who lead with their ego and focus on personal gain. The best example of a servant leader is one who assumes personal risk while sharing community benefits. Many leaders assume the benefits without sharing the risks. It’s a trait that drives many employees away.
Legendary Duke University men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, known as Coach K, is an excellent example. He didn’t create the player empowerment movement, but he certainly benefited the most from it. Twenty years ago, hard-nosed coaches won championships by creating a program-driven system that focused on the coach and the program. But Coach K realized that giving full attention to the player’s success would give the team the best chance of winning. Players, like employees, will do what is best for them and follow the leaders who will bring them the most benefit. Coach K did it brilliantly. The results speak for themselves: championship banners hanging from the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Employees want to work for leaders who will use their resources, networks, experience and vision to help them succeed and grow in their careers and in their lives. This is what servant leadership is. Simply put, it’s the most powerful form of leadership in the world because it gives people what their brains crave: security.
Servant leadership that emphasizes employee empowerment helps people feel seen, known, and valued. It also creates the holy grail of corporate culture: belonging. According to studies by BetterUp, when an employee feels A sense of belonging at work, productivity soars, engagement increases, turnover decreases, stress decreases, and companies with highly engaged employees see profits up 21%. Belonging is the fuel that will take your business to the next level.
2. Create a village communication system
Offer support by establishing communication structures that I call Platinum Rule Communication (as opposed to communicating the golden rule). Here, we communicate with our employees in a way they or they value instead of just way we assess.
For example, many of our team members thrive when their work is appreciated. Taking a moment to express gratitude for a specific job they’ve recently done and telling them how it has benefited you as a leader can build deep levels of engagement.
3. Intentionally create links with the village
We can connect by facilitating intentional opportunities for our employees to connect with other employees inside and outside of our company structures. A rising trend for companies over the next five years will be to establish a new management position called the responsible for the connection. This person’s sole purpose will be to create and facilitate personal connection opportunities for their team.
But connecting can also be as simple as sharing a small piece of your personal life over a quick coffee break or team meeting. People want to connect with you, and small gestures of vulnerability can go a long way.
Creating a sense of empowerment, support and connection helps employees feel seen, known and valued. It can also build trust, expand opportunities, and increase respect. This can provide the psychological safety that employees need in a post-COVID world.
Build a Village Mindset for Success
We’re all facing a new reality when it comes to employee engagement, but the good news is: we can change. We have the skills and the strength to do things differently than they have been done before. When we realize this, this new reality of employee empowerment will make our businesses more profitable, increase our influence as leaders, and create a deep sense of employee ownership. Combining servant leadership with a village mindset is a win/win situation for everyone. Leaders who capture this now will usher in the leadership of the future.
Jason Butler has over 20 years of leadership experience as an executive director and business entrepreneur and is now a keynote speaker and consultant helping leaders increase their service leadership capacity and strengthen their culture of belonging. The author of “The State of the Village” he lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his partner Andrea, their seven children, and loves riding his Harley, skydiving and eating Carolina BBQ.