The Mechanical Engineers Organization at University of Tulsa has a number of needs that it seeks to address in the coming years in order to grow and develop to its fullest potential. The Organization is composed of national and international students from the University and is led by professors at the University. It seeks to increase its membership and initiate several projects to help provide its members with appropriate experience in their field. It also seeks to build more relationships with external companies and leaders so that members can begin to invest in their futures and potential careers as mechanical engineers by getting to know people already entrenched in the industry. Servant Leadership Theory can be effectively applied in helping this Organization because the Theory helps people to identify their goals and needs by promoting active listening, inclusivity, diversity, openness, humility, and selflessness in the service of assisting others (Nees, 2015). Servant Leadership would help this organization by promoting student diversity and showing a welcoming spirit to all kinds of students (thereby promoting growth and an increase in membership). It would also promote relationship building with leaders in the mechanical engineering industry but emphasizing humility and the need for members to want to serve others, especially those who are in the business in the real world. Drawbacks are that students may have to accept co-op positions that do not pay for a specific length of time in order to service this theory; however, by accepting co-ops, students can show their desire to help an organization succeed and can establish their own traits and qualities as good and effective leaders. This paper will present a Servant Leadership Theory model for the Mechanical Engineers Organization at University of Tulsa in order to assist that Organization and its members in reaching their potential.
II. Servant Leadership
The Mindset of the Servant Leader
Characteristics of effective Servant Leaders include the ability to provide active listening to other people. Active listening “takes discipline, time and concentration….A good listener knows when to respond and to ask appropriate questions without taking over the conversation.” (Nees, 2014). This means that a Servant Leader is not just one who listens silently to others when they speak but that a Servant Leader is one who listens, understands, and engages the speaker by asking good questions that will lead to further insights. Servant Leaders, in other words, should display high levels of Emotional and Social Intelligence (Cacamis, El Asmar, 2014; Northouse, 2016). Servant Leaders who adopt this philosophy of leadership tend to look different from other types of leaders because they are generally very likeable: they understand how being likeable lends them credibility as a leader and how by being friendly and taking time to invest in others shows that they care and want to help others succeed (Sanders, 2006). In other words, a Servant Leader is one who is people smart—i.e., he knows how to read people, listen, understand and communicate effectively by considering social and emotional cues. His interest in people is also very genuine and is not phony.
Identifying a Servant Leader
A Servant Leader might be identified within the work environment by his commitment to the needs of others and desire to see that all people are included and heard. This person can be identified outside the workplace as well—for instance, if he or she is engaged in home, family or community activities, such as sports, charity events or community council. The characteristics of a servant leader are compassionate listening and care, a willingness to stop and take time to hear others and listen to their concerns while offering engaging thoughts that support the person and do not de-legitimize that person’s needs.
III. Impact of Servant Leadership
The impact that Servant Leadership philosophy will have on the Mechanical Engineers Organization at Tulsa is that it would help to increase the Organization’s attractiveness to others and thereby help to grow its membership. It would help to train the members in the philosophy of Servant Leadership and thereby assist them in committing to organizations in the industry, developing relationships through co-op opportunities, and building individual relationship skills through respect for diversity and inclusivity.
The Organization’s aim of growing its membership would be supported through Servant Leadership, because this is a philosophy of leadership that devotes itself to assisting others and recognizing their needs as important. By providing service to those in need, the Organization will make itself appealing at a high level and many persons will want to join to take advantage of its numerous services. It will be appeal to more proudly boast of its ability to build relationships between its members and members of the industry in the real world, as Servant Leadership will enable people to come together and allow diverse minds to collaborate on initiatives that might otherwise stall without the right supportive leadership philosophy undergirding it. Members would find that their career possibilities have grown in scope as they are introduced to a wider range of possible partners and colleagues through the open-minded approach that Servant Leadership inspires. The Organization will have many more possibilities to offer its members in terms of locating a firm with which it can build a relationship that will last into the future.
The challenges that might occur with this work in this environment could include braking down old ways of thinking about leadership and culture. In any Organization there is a workplace or organizational culture that exists and that informs the stakeholders. The culture promotes specific ideas and behaviors that are reinforced sometimes through incentives or sometimes through the application of penalties. In an organization where Servant Leadership is utilized, a culture of giving and sharing is promoted, and a spirit of selflessness takes hold, which allows relationships to grow and foster and helps to develop a positive organizational culture rooted in togetherness and team work.
To effect that change it is sometimes necessary to utilize a change management approach, in which a new outline for the culture is given and implemented in a process that is monitored and evaluated to ensure that it is progressing effectively (Kissack, Callahn, 2010). A Servant Leadership approach to this type of operation would need to be supported by workers who are able to assist in the drafting of the plan and the overseeing of its implementation. So it would be necessary to recruit some stakeholders or members in the Organization to the vision purported by Servant Leadership so that the culture could be developed appropriately and so that resistance was mitigated (Hanif, Khan, Zahir, 2014). This could represent a challenge at first, but over time the fruits of the labor should be clearly manifested to all, inspiring more and more people to want to support this philosophical approach to leadership.
The Organization overall would begin to look like a fraternal society—a place where all members recognize one another as brothers and sisters, like in one big family. This type of familial recognition…