Employees feel the most valued and perform their job well when their bosses create a culture of trust, caring, cooperation, fairness and empathy, shows a new study.
"The best business leadership style is far from "Do this. Don't do that".
A servant leader looks and sounds a lot more like: "Is there anything I can do to help you?" or "Let me help you..." and "What do you need to...?"
This approach helps employees reach their full potential.
"When managers create a culture where employees know that the boss puts their needs over his or her own, measureable improvements in customer satisfaction, higher job performance by employees and lower turnover are the result," explained Sandy Wayne, professor of management at University of Illinois at Chicago.
The corresponding admiration employees have for bosses who care about them manifests itself in teamwork, loyalty and dedication to the business and its customers.
The leadership style trickles down.
"It is contagious. The employees see their leaders as role models and often mimic those qualities, creating a culture of servant leadership. This serving culture drives the effectiveness of the business as a whole," said study co-author Robert Liden.
The study was conducted at the Jason's Deli national restaurant chain. The sample included 961 employees at 71 Jason's Deli restaurants in 10 metropolitan areas.
The findings were based on data from surveys completed by managers, employees, and customers and data from corporate records.
The results showed that "serving bosses" resulted in six percent higher job performance, eight percent more customer service behaviours and 50 percent less employees likely to leave the company.
The study, published in Academy of Management Journal, suggests that if businesses lead by caring for their people, the profits will take care of themselves.