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A leader’s purpose is to bring out the best qualities in each employee, but it doesn’t normally work that way when outdated strategies come into play. Traditionally, people with boisterous personality traits are put into leadership positions because their superiors often mistake aggressiveness for assertiveness. They expect results in the form of increased profits, decreased expenses, and steady growth. Leaders often try to obtain these goals by implementing strict guidelines and by doling out discipline when their subordinates fail.

Leaders who become obsessed with control and the bottom line often treat their personnel like lackeys who simply exist as a means to advance their own agendas. This can create fear in the people they are supposed to guide and might actually lead to missing goals altogether. Fear stifles creativity—the desire to experiment and the willingness to learn.

Under these conditions, people lose their innovative abilities, which are necessary to solve problems. A humble leader recognizes this outdated style as counterproductive and strives to help people feel motivated, invigorated and determined so that they can bring a positive attitude to work. Also known as servant leadership, this management style can help employees grow and exceed their own expectations.

The terms servant and humility seem to imply weakness and low self-esteem. However, in this context they mean that a humble leader understands there’s much to be gained by encouraging others to test their own concepts and to employ their individual thinking skills. In addition to humility, servant-leader characteristics include courage and the ability to understand that others in less powerful positions still have expertise that can benefit the team.

Humble leaders create an atmosphere that inspires followers to reach their best potential. Instead of telling others how to do their jobs, they ask their employees how they can help leaders achieve goals. They encourage new approaches and respect innovative ideas by fashioning low-risk spaces where employees don’t feel stifled; this allows workers to expand their mental boundaries and to become more interactive.

At first, employees might not understand how to react to servant leadership. Since they’re used to the intimidation of anyone with more corporate power, it will take time to overcome the fear of disciplinary action. However, the positive results that are gained under humble leadership will speak for themselves.