In a recent study by Deloitte on "purpose" at work, 79% of respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 consider this factor when accepting a new job and 66% have said they have left a company because they don't find a mission in what they do. In the next generation, aged 16 to 25, the percentages rise to 85% and 70% respectively. The figures tell us that salary and career prospects are no longer the only decisive factors.
Anyone who works in areas such as education or health recognizes that motivation often lies in the purpose of serving others. I don't know any doctor, nurse or teacher who, no matter how exhausted they are, doesn't find motivation in what they do, if only because of the "emotional paycheck" they receive from those they serve. However, we know that working in these sectors is not enough on its own. Leadership plays a key role in mobilizing, retaining, and even ensuring the happiness and well-being of everyone.
We know that there are various styles of leadership, from authoritarian to transactional. A "Servant Leadership" is a concept that breaks with traditional concepts. This philosophy inverts the pyramid of power and puts the needs of others first, helping them to grow and making room for words like "vulnerability" and "involvement". As a result, team management becomes more genuine, truthful, and altruistic, generating a common feeling of sharing and authenticity that leads to better performance, together with greater motivation, a sense of commitment, and satisfaction.
Although the concept is almost timeless, the expression "Servant Leader" was coined by Robert Greenleaf in the 70s. He believed that organizations and individuals could serve and thus change the world. His theory was clear: a good society is sustained through care and service to others. Like Greenleaf, I believe that we can build servant organizations.
You might think that "Servant Leadership" is a concept that lives only in the academic world, but many of us have examples of this model in our lives. In my case, it was 'taught' to me by my grandmother, mother and aunts - extraordinary women with the ability to mobilize the whole family (there are many of us!). At the numerous times of the year when we meet, it is they - all over 70- years old - who remain steadfast in organizing and welcoming everyone. No amount of tiredness can stop them. They are leaders precisely because they always focus on serving others. And in a discreet and modest way, without being the center of attention or recognized for what they do. Today I see this model 'inherited' by my siblings: a neurosurgeon and an oncology nurse who put the health of those they save before the working conditions in which they do so, no matter how precarious they may be - from the salary they receive to the infrastructures they don't have.
Another example, like the one of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, reflects the philosophy of serving first. Only then lead. Concepts such as empathy, active listening, andsharedvision are the foundation that builds this type of leadership. These leaders promote the building of a collaborative and supportive working community. In the teams they lead, cooperation, trust, and mutual respect are highly encouraged and so teams feel valued and motivated to contribute to the common good. This model contrasts with the 'bossiness' of narcissistic leaders who govern themselves by - and for - themselves. Are they really leaders or rather team "bosses"? Are these the leaders we want in our organizations?
In this new world of work where the word "purpose" is taking on more and more weight, I wonder if there is any organization that wouldn't gain from more people-oriented leaders. If results are what you want, and people are the ones who get them, why not put them first?