I’m in a series highlighting 9 Effective Servant Leadership Practices. Servant leadership is not just a good idea. It works! The 9 effective leadership practices highlighted in this series capture core leadership dimensions that are correlated with effectiveness in the team context.
The third grouping of servant leadership practices in the model emphasizes clear communication and the supporting of individuals toward outcomes for which they are accountable. This third cluster of servant leadership practices is focused on helping followers navigate toward effectiveness and include the following practices: (1) communicating with clarity, (2) supporting and resourcing, and (3) providing accountability. Last week, we highlighted Communicating with Clarity. This week we take on Leadership Practice 8— Supporting and Resourcing Followers.
Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing Followers
In addition to clear communication, followers also need their servant leaders to practice supporting and resourcing. On productive teams, leaders and followers focus their energies on movement toward important goals. They recognize that it is not just about being busy, but also being productive. As followers work toward these goals, servant leaders focus on serving the followers through supporting and resourcing activities. They help to remove obstacles that hindering follower progress. They help to provide encouragement and motivation. They help to provide the necessary resources that followers will need to get the job done.
Equipping and Empowering
Rather than leaders viewing their primary role as driving followers toward production, a commitment to supporting and resourcing allows leaders to focus on serving followers toward their success and being responsive to their needs as they work toward organizational goals. Servant leadership is not about doing people’s work for them. It is about creating a context within which followers will flourish in their work.
Leadership supporting and resourcing captures the heart of what is included in James Kouzes and Barry Posners’ theme of Enable Others to Act in their five practices of exemplary leadership. Leaders take a proactive posture toward followers. They work to remove barriers and build bridges so that followers may thrive in their responsibilities.
A Proactive Approach to Leading
On this theme of supporting and resourcing followers, research participants emphasized the importance of removing barriers, and one participant identified the special importance of being active in the identification of needs. They noted that the leader “should be the first to ask ‘what do we need to get the job done’ versus being passive, waiting for requests to come to him/her and then trying to put the requests off as long as possible.”
Other research participants add that because leaders are in the position to see the best allocation of resources and to draw out the gifting of human resources so that followers are fulfilled in their work, it is important that leaders share explanations with followers regarding how resources are apportioned and when resources are not available for certain needs.
Another participant’s response captures the essence of this servant leadership behavior noting that leaders carry out this function best when they release power and resources to members to accomplish critical and expected initiatives.
Setting Up Followers for Success
If the mission of the community matters, then leaders have the responsibility to provide the support and resources necessary for followers to work toward their goals in light of this mission. In your work as a leader, are you taking a passive or active posture toward supporting and resourcing followers? Are you working to remove obstacles that are barriers to follower work performance? Are you working to provide the necessary support and resources that builds bridges to effective follower work performance?
Take some time in the week to consider how you may more effectively support and resource your followers in their work toward the mission of your organization or team.
Related Posts for the 9 Effective Leadership Practices:
|Cluster One — Beginning with Authentic Leaders|
|Cluster Two — Understanding the Priority of People|
|Cluster Three — Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness|
Note: For those wanting to dig a bit deeper, please check out my article entitled “A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice.”