The concept of servant leadership is founded on the simple notion of helping and serving others to meet their personal needs. This focus on internal and external relationships garners trust and employee loyalty, as well as positive consumer sentiment.
Our company values guide every employee, franchisee, and customer interaction, and servant leadership is one of our values and is essential to maintaining these relationships. Here are three reasons you should live by the servant leadership philosophy to lead your franchisees and employees toward greater goals.
1. Franchisee and Employee Satisfaction
Employees at all levels should be treated with respect and made to feel significant and impactful, starting from the top down. Servant leadership begins with creating empowerment from within each role in your business, acknowledging the employees as people and learning their individual culture and life outside of work. Studies have shown that 27 percent of employees at companies that don’t have a significant work-life balance will resign from their position within two years. Without recognizing the need for work-life balance, you may see higher turnover rates. Helping franchisees balance their personal lives and their work lives is one way to increase overall productivity and loyalty.
This notion of balance, which seems simple in practice, is one of the most difficult to master as a business owner and leader. Though it’s rare to achieve it, it’s important to never stop trying. This elusive balance is all about focusing on what is most important to yourself and those around you. As a leader, it is incumbent to identify priorities of your employees, then schedule those priorities on a calendar to accommodate to their personal needs. Allow a little leeway for their personal life — if they want to take a week off to travel to Spain, don’t make them feel guilty. Instead, help them adjust their schedules and wish them a fun and safe trip. It’s the small gestures like these that are noticed.
2. Better Corporate Culture
As the leader of a business, the importance of creating a cohesive and positive corporate culture can’t be overstated. Leading by example is the way to achieve this, and also fosters a climate of influence that develops future leaders. When we empower employees at all levels to take on leadership roles, we demonstrate the importance of treating team members with the respect they deserve. Franchisors can enhance corporate culture by scheduling time to spend with employees as a group doing non-work-related activities. Plan team philanthropy events, luncheons, and get-togethers to get to know them as individuals and find common ground on a personal level.
To demonstrate my commitment to these ideals, I asked every member of my leadership team to read the book “Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for your People Like Family” by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia. The book acknowledges that 99 percent of organizations say their people matter, but questions whether or not most of those companies actually make decisions that consider their employees’ needs. This is a guiding principal that sets us apart.
3. Open Communication
Critical to the implementation of servant leadership is holding ourselves accountable and expressing concerns as they arise. Have certain expectations of your employees, as they should have certain expectations of you. You should encourage your team to speak up if they notice your core values falling by the wayside. At City Wide, we encourage a culture of openness when it comes to voicing concerns. Feedback is welcomed, and the collection of everyone’s ideas, opinions, and concerns creates an overall positive environment. To make sure their value to the team is noted, reward your franchisees with recognition of their hard work.
While running a franchise, it is easy for franchisors to lose track and sight of open communication amongst franchisees and employees. Having open communication systems in place in an organization is key. To ensure everyone feels invested and heard, encourage employees to come to you with ideas and concerns by scheduling weekly or monthly meetings and peer groups to give them a safe and positive forum to do so.
At the end of the day, it is our duty as leaders and people to treat our teams with respect. Phrases such as “What goes around comes around” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” are true in that they directly apply to your success as a company or business. Positivity is a ripple effect, and as I mentioned previously, starts from the top down. You help yourself by helping others. In the words of motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Jeff Oddo is the president of City Wide Maintenance, a sales and management company in the building maintenance industry with more than 50 franchise locations across the United States.