The world is changing all the time. Paradigm shifts is a phenomenon that occurs throughout human history. This 21st century marks yet another great paradigm shift that involves increasingly more technology and Internet of Things (IoT) than it ever did in the past.
For humanity, this means an increasing integration of technology to everyday life functions, whether we are aware of it or not. At a behavioral level, technology has influenced the way we interact with one another. Collectively, this presents a great behavioral shift of the 21st century.
With the presenting behavioral shift, the people management or leadership style will also have to adapt to this 21st century periodic shift. The traditional leadership style that emphasizes one-way and top-down communication, may not be the most effective leadership style of this century. The digital age and Internet of Things (IoT) present a high degree of interconnectedness which is also fast paced and rapidly evolving. Traditional one-way communication may not be sufficient to keep up with this fast pace environment due to an ever changing situation that sometimes requires immediate actions, and traditional one-way communication may make businesses lose out on their competitiveness, over more adaptive peers.
The growing tech-savvy Generation Z population of whom are starting out their career, present a population with greater familiarity on technological usage and tech adaptability. Following their early exposure to tech in their early days. For businesses that need to adapt to the 21st century climate, a two-way communication where frontliners are allowed to express their pain points and issues, faced first-hands as frontliners, is one way to understand the underlying business issues, that may have persistently increased business costs, without the top management being fully awareness of them.
Understanding the underlying business issues that subordinates face, allow top management to take effective actions to resolve them. This may be especially true during the technological era where issues must be tackled in a timely manner sometimes, let alone have it reported by the frontline GenZ who have better understanding of technological complications.
This is where Servant Leadership comes into play in this 21st century. Servant Leadership is about leadership authenticity, ethical people management that empower individuals’ hidden talents through empathetic listening and taking actions to address subordinates’ concerns. For the betterment of subordinates' well-being, to serve them and allow them to be the best version of themselves for full unleashing of their hidden potentials. The results of Authentic Servant Leadership is increased trust and transparency which are fundamental components of effective team working.
With honesty and transparency, following employees’ trust, then leads to authentic feedback and issue reporting that allow for effective problem-solving and continuous progression in the fast-paced 21st century environment. Without trust, subordinates will withhold information and become less honest in their feedback and issue reporting, which increases the time cost to understand the setbacks, hence effectively resolving the issues by implementing solutions. Servant Leadership aims to minimize the latter scenarios in workplaces.
Healthy corporate culture starts with a leader. As a servant leader, it is one’s responsibility to hear out employees’ pain points and act upon it effectively. Understand their pains and use your leadership power to resolve their issues. For instance providing necessary resources or access that help eliminating subordinates’ work barriers, which further improve work effectiveness and productivity, accordingly.
Like other leadership styles, Servant Leadership ensures key objectives are met. Unlike some leadership styles, Servant Leadership also ensures healthy employee psychological well-being. Including satisfaction, fulfilment and loyalty. All these translated into increased productivity, creativity, happiness and retention. This makes Servant Leadership a suitable leadership style of the 21st century where creativity is key to innovation and employee satisfaction and loyalty are keys to continuous ideas, allowing the businesses to stay sustainably innovative. Also, the ‘employee empowerment’ element of 21st Century Servant Leadership ensures no subordinates fear expressing their ideas and suggestions, unleashing their full potential to contribute to their firms.
Early career professionals or Generation Z always possess new ideas and fresh perspectives. Yet, these novel ideas may remain unheard if the culture does not facilitate open discussions. For more experienced professionals, this may be the time to adopt Servant Leadership to unleash their juniors’ unspoken novel ideas and thoughts. For further assessments and analysis of practicality by more experienced professionals. First, for companies’ continuous innovative cultures. Second, for companies’ sustainable growth. Third, for an effective adaptation to the 21st century human behavior and paradigm shift.
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