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What is the Price of Leadership?

If you know your corporate jargon, you’ve probably heard the term “Price Leadership”. But this article is not about a dominant company that determines the price of a product or service, but more about the “cost” leadership comes at. Although there are various styles of leadership, a lot of focus nowadays falls on Servant Leadership, a term coined by Robert K. Greenleaf. With this type of leadership, the leader is willing to sacrifice self-interests. It focuses on the idea that leaders prioritize serving their team and organization first and therefore don’t rank their own objectives, all in the quest to achieve the greater good.

In one of Simon Sinek’s videos he said: “The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”

Through the ever-changing world of work, there is a demand for leaders to support, empower, and create an innovative and agile workforce. They must build their team’s skills set, promote employee engagement, flexibility and adaptability as well as invest in their mental wellness. When a leader adopts the servant leadership approach, they don’t totally disappear and leave the team to develop on their own. They form a framework in which their followers can thrive. They centre their attention on building from the bottom upwards. Fostering psychological safety within their team is a vital focal point. Through motivating and inspiring their subordinates they can encourage them to take true ownership. 

Although very rewarding, consequently, these leaders do build a dynamic team, but at what cost? To what extent do they “lose” in this process?

  • Be prepared to become unpopular. People naturally resist change and view change in a negative way. Leaders take people through change. Initially, it might be hard, and your popularity will suffer, but your job as a leader is to make your followers see that the change is necessary and that it is all for the greater good. If you guide them properly and stick by them, your popularity will return once they see that you have their, and the organisation’s, best interest at heart. 
  • Servant leadership is time-consuming. Servant leaders give up a lot of their personal time to invest in their subordinates’ developing needs.  
  • Your leadership journey can be a daunting process. Because you venture into the unknown with every team member and you are focused on empowering them and uplifting them, each person reacts differently which can become quite discouraging and overwhelming. It can become intimidating and scary sometimes because you know that it has become your responsibility for them to thrive.  
  • You will be forced out of your comfort zone. Since you are expected to work through difficult conflict situations and minimise the uneasiness of individual members, this type of leadership will take you out of your comfort zone. Conflict situations might become extremely challenging, but when you have developed a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence) you will increase the quick and positive resolution of the problem. 
  • You must give a lot of yourself to your followers. Being truly authentic can become a bit invasive and it will be a real challenge not to lose bits and pieces of yourself throughout this journey. Looking after your mental wellbeing will have to become a strong priority when you are in a servant leadership position.

Servant Leaders concentrate on heightening collaboration skills, improving each of their employee’s self-confidence, boosting their creative thinking, and increasing their risk-taking skills through developing proper decision-making abilities. Naturally, this will take huge effort and investment from the leader’s side. But the rewards are amazing and at the end of the day, it will be worth it if you still look after yourself.