5 Ways leaders can serve their teams

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Servant Leadership was coined by Robert Greenleaf in 1970. It’s a leadership style that places the leader in the role of servant to their team, beginning with “a natural feeling that one wants to serve”. The idea is a very nice one in theory, working on the basis that the leader’s role is to get the most out of their team – serving them is a great way to do this.

Although Servant Leadership may be slightly underestimating the role of a strong leader, there is one thing that we can be sure of now – the days of teams serving leaders are over. Leaders are expected to create the best culture, environment and development programmes to help get the best out of their team.

This doesn’t have to be a very hard and exhaustive process, and with this in mind, here are 5 ways that a leader can serve their teams every single day.

#1 – 2.0

All the best leaders I know see themselves as coaches or mentors. They look at their teams their coaches and that it’s their responsibility to help that person develop. A good way to do this is by deploying a 2.0 programme. Simply ask each member of your team to think about 1 or 2 areas that they want to develop professionally. This could be public speaking ability, it could be presentation writing, or could be something as simple as handling client phone calls. Then you commit to help them to develop these skills, within a certain timeline – when they achieve this, they have achieved their 2.0.

This isn’t a one-time process either, this can be repeated with 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 and so on. As long as you have people in your team that want to learn and develop, you can be deploying 2.0 programmes with them.


Good leadership requires empathy. It’s very important to be in tune with your team, and to be able to know if they are struggling with something. An excellent way of doing this is simply checking in. Ask them if they have time for a quick chat, and then find out if everything is OK with them. The important thing to remember in these situations is that you are checking-in, that means you need to ask questions and listen to the answers!


Motivation is a fantastic gauge of workplace happiness, and one of the best ways to create motivation is by creating a culture of freedom. Make sure that your team feel free to play their role in the way they want. Yes, it’s important to be aligned on the outcomes, and roles and responsibilities, but doing more than that is moving into micro-management. Creating a culture of freedom is very important these days, as it opens the door for new ways of working, which can lead to innovation.


Two of the easiest and most impactful phrases in the English language are “well done” and “thank you”. Yet, it seems that they aren’t used anywhere near enough. Thanking your team for their efforts, and recognising their good performance is the most basic way to serve your team. As people, we seek validation constantly, so your job as a leader is to help provide this validation. Without a culture that recognises good performance, you are bound to lose any engagement that you may have once had.


Another great way to help your team grow is by dropping them in the deep end. This means to seek out an area where they need to develop, and place them in a situation where they will learn and will learn fast. It’s important to remember to be there to support them in these situations. This doesn’t mean drop them in and walk away. It means exposing them to new and exciting situations that will enhance and speed up their development, another great way to serve you team.

The important thing to bear in mind when it comes to serving your team is why. It comes down to 2 core reasons.

  1. Accessing top performance

Your team are the people that do the hard work, make the business impact and get results. Therefore, your job as leader is to create an environment where they can then thrive and deliver that best performance, and serving helps here.

  1. Making a positive difference

Every leader has an opportunity to make a positive difference in the world. You have an opportunity to fill your team’s day with purpose, learning and happiness. This is important because we all spend lots of our life at work. Serving your team can help you make this positive difference too.

For me point 2 will always take precedence over point 1. The kicker here is that, I don’t believe you can access top performance without workplace happiness. So look at serving your team as a way to help the people in your team look forward to coming to work, and feel like they have a true purpose. When you do this, and you create that culture, you will see top performance emerging.