From Dilbert’s incompetent, unethical Pointy-Haired Boss to The Devil Wears Prada’s cold, condescending editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly, the bad boss archetype is ubiquitous. While bad bosses in popular culture are entertaining, in real life they break havoc — with disengaged employees, low morale, low productivity and high turnover. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that the number one reason people leave companies is an uninspiring, ineffective leader. Gallup concluded that people leave managers, not companies.
The responsibility for creating a positive, productive work environment rests with the boss. However, even leaders with the best intentions can falter. After all, different personalities do not always mesh, and it’s difficult — if not impossible — to avoid conflict altogether when working side-by-side for eight or more hours a day. However, many boss-employee tensions can be alleviated by recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest asset which can be best managed by becoming a servant leader.
Servant leadership is a people-first approach that runs counter to most dominant management styles. According to Kent Keith, CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, “Servant leaders focus on identifying and meeting the needs of others rather than trying to acquire power, wealth, and fame for themselves.”