When those unfamiliar with the practice of Servant Leadership try to communicate what they believe it is, many interesting and incorrect ideas are expressed. I have personally heard others refer to Servant Leadership as a weak leadership style where the team members get the chance to walk all over their leaders. My personal favorite incorrect description of Servant Leadership is that it is some kind of wacky cult where leaders convince their team that they are really happy all of the time, and everyone holds hands and sings songs. Yes, that is what we do…stand over our team members sending subliminal messages telling them to be happy and contented in their positions! If only it was that easy!
Servant Leadership is based upon the idea of serving one another, regardless of title or position. Accountability is a building block to the success of a servant-run organization. Unfortunately, people have the perception that a servant leader is someone who bends over backwards for their team members and the team pretty much does whatever they want. This idea is only partially correct. A true servant leader will go to great lengths to care for their team, however, this does not absolve the team from their responsibilities to the organization. For example, if you are hired by an organization to deliver pizzas, you cannot decide one day that you do not feel like doing your job, so your leader needs to, as they are there to serve you.
Accountability is a two-way street – just as a leader holds their team members accountable for their responsibilities, team members should hold their leaders accountable as well. If you preach that you clear roadblocks for your team members to successfully do their jobs, then you better ensure you are doing this. If team members are expected to live the organizational culture and you hold them accountable for it, then you also need to demonstrate that you are accountable for living the same culture.
Are you accountable?