Servant Leadership

As CEO of ServiceMaster by Stratos, I serve as a leader to more than 500 employees, or service partners as we like to call them. I work in the business, on the business and everything in between. You might see me in a boardroom making crucial business decisions one day, and the next you may see me sweeping a floor alongside a service partner. To me, leadership isn’t just delegation or instruction. Effective leadership requires one to be a servant leader by getting into the thick of things with the team when needed, treating others with respect and setting a good example.

From ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., servant leadership has proven to be successful time and time again. Why, then, is this style so rare or not talked about among business leaders today? I believe it’s because it’s not flashy, easy or quick. In our world today, we love immediacy. We can thank technology and man’s drive to the top for that. It allows us the luxury of skipping critical steps in various processes to get to our end result in record time. In some instances, this is a good thing, but if we let that idea spill over into how we lead, we miss out on opportunities to invest in and develop our team and ourselves. At Stratos, we embrace servant leadership not only because it aids in the success of our business, raises levels of trust in our leaders and enhances service partner commitment to our organization, but also teaches our service partners lessons they can apply to all areas of life, especially those outside the workplace.

Aside from the impact this leadership style has on the team, it can be life changing for the leader as well. Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, a book that dives into the affect servant leadership has on the leader, reports that servant leaders are more productive and feel good about themselves at the end of the day. By giving so much of themselves, servant leaders are energized when they see the difference they are having on their team and their business.

The cover of Inc.’s March/April 2018 issue posed a question, “Is it your job to create jobs?” In a servant leader’s mind, the answer to that question is, “It’s my job to create opportunities.” As small business leaders, it is imperative that we take into account how our leadership style impacts our business. Take time to reflect on yours.

Stacy McCall is the President and CEO of ServiceMaster by Stratos, providing professional janitorial services, commercial specialty cleaning, event and venue cleaning, and post-construction cleaning services in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama for more than 35 years. Read her full bio here.