Efficiency is not antithetical to empathy, but it sure can make it hard. When we lead anything — as professionals, as volunteers, as family members — a key driving force is often getting it done quickly, economically, and with minimal muss and fuss.
Enter servant leadership, which would call on us to work from a place of empathy and collaboration. It doesn’t throw efficiency out the door, but it values the process about as much as the outcome. It makes for a slower and more deliberative process in which everyone feels heard.
A pure servant leadership model won’t work for every situation. Sometimes a decision has to be made quickly, quite possibly by an individual who will take primary or sole responsibility for that action. But even when that is the case, if servant leadership has been used as a foundation in other situations, that decision will be informed by empathy and by humility for the one making it.