What’s it: Servant leadership is a leadership style that puts forward the service of others. Leaders meet others’ needs, help them grow, and provide opportunities for them to be rewarded materially and emotionally. In this sense, the leader goes beyond self-interest to serve other people, organizations, and society.
Servant leadership characteristics
Servant leadership characteristics are as follows:
- Leadership is based on strong values and ideals that leaders and followers bring to the workplace.
- Leaders care more about their follower’s success than their own success.
- The leader is attentive to followers’ needs and provides an environment where followers can reach their full potential and perform best.
- Followers are involved in all operational processes and decision making. As a result, followers play a more significant role in the results of the organization.
- Respect, motivation, positive attitude, and service are the central values of this leadership style.
- Leaders regard their followers as partners and treat them as equals.
Furthermore, Larry Spears, a writer, and philosopher outlined Greenleaf’s idea and put forward ten principles of servant leadership:
Listening. Leaders are willing to listen to other people seriously. They seek to identify the expectations of a group (subordinates and stakeholders) and help explain and fulfill those expectations.
Empathy. Leaders have the expertise to recognize and understand the feelings and emotions of others. Because they understand others so well, their actions are motivated by a genuine desire to help others.
Healing. Followers usually want the leader to have a genuine interest in nurturing their emotional and spiritual well-being. By taking an active role in promoting subordinates’ mental and emotional strength, leaders usually inspire with an extraordinary level of trust. Additionally, leaders ensure that their subordinates have the resources, knowledge, and support to effectively do their jobs. Leaders also develop a healthy workplace. They then take steps to help their subordinates be happy and involved in their roles.
Awareness. Leaders are fully aware of their weaknesses, strengths, values, emotions, and feelings. This self-awareness allows them to understand their personal biases and override them when making decisions.
Persuasion. Leaders have persuasive skills to influence the opinions and actions of others. This quality is useful in negotiations with business partners, customers, and other stakeholders.
Conceptualization. An essential quality of servant leaders is their ability to conceptualize or imagine future possibilities and reconcile with current realities. They think outside the box and build big dreams. These abilities help leaders visualize a bright future and take the steps necessary to get there.
Foresight. They have the intuitive ability to predict what might happen in the future, based on the past and the present.
Stewardship. They take full responsibility for planning, managing, and empowering all available resources to improve the organization, employees, and stakeholders’ welfare.
Commitment to the growth of people. They help employees map a clear career path and provide them with the resources to progress from one level to the next.
Building community. Under a servant leader, people gather for the same purpose. Leaders can build a sense of belonging and foster team spirit and a sense of community.
Why is it important to be a servant leader
In a company, servant leadership creates strong positive feelings between management and employees. It leads to a sense of high morale. When employees are satisfied with their job and company, workplace productivity increases.
Other advantages of servant leadership are:
- Opening new and innovative ideas. Subordinates have the opportunity to express and experiment with their ideas. The leader opens a broader room for growth and discussion with subordinates.
- High trust and motivation. Leaders value and trust subordinates to do a good job. They pay attention to the interests of subordinates and provide support to subordinates to improve their quality.
- Maximizing the potential of subordinates. Serving leaders map and optimize the talents of subordinates. They contribute to the achievement of goals and success of subordinates.