In discussions with clients about desired the management style for company leaders, we are increasingly hearing more about servant leadership. It’s certainly not new but likely will swing the pendulum back from “top down and command/control” to more of a collaborative and inspired shared vision of leadership.

Servant Leadership in the New Normal

Neither servant leadership nor command and control are new but my sense is many companies feel they need to be in one camp or the other. Further, most of the published articles on this issue seem to be proponents of one or the other. Given the times we are in, I think neither is mutually exclusive. I recall a book published in the 1970’s by Ken Blanchard called, The Situational Leader. Interestingly, not a lot has been broadly published since that time but, to me, the situational leader speaks to the middle ground which may be best advised.

Consider attributes of servant leadership or command and control we are used to seeing in job descriptions. On the servant leadership side, it’s attributes like empathy, listening, enabling and on the command and control side its drive for results, decisive and urgency. The more accurate descriptor or attribute for a leader may be versatility or adaptability; that is, a leader who can deploy command and control behavior when it’s appropriate but also the skills to encourage behavior more consistent with servant leadership when warranted.

There are at least two drivers that come to mind that may be forcing the pendulum swing from command and control toward servant leadership. While it is not all about millennials, they are certainly a factor as there is not a company I know of that can ignore their place in the current and future workforce. The other driver is the geo, political and economic environment we are in. There is no playbook for it and I believe it truly is the new normal. And, business leaders need to think differently about it, in every way- including leadership style.