Servant Leadership

Definition

Servant leadership is being servant first, letting the natural feeling to serve others come first, and then through conscious choice bringing one to aspire to lead. This manifests itself in that the servant leader makes sure that other people’s highest needs are being served. (Robert Greenleaf)

Characteristics

Ten characteristics of servant leaders. The ten characteristics are:

  • Listening—A servant leader puts the emphasis upon listening effectively to others.
  • Empathy—A servant leader needs to understand others' feelings and perspectives.
  • Healing—A servant leader helps foster each person's emotional and spiritual health and wholeness.
  • Awareness—A servant leader understands his or her own values and feelings, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Persuasion—A servant leader influences others through their persuasiveness.
  • Conceptualization—A servant leader needs to integrate present realities and future possibilities.
  • Foresight—A servant leader needs to have a well-developed sense of intuition about how the past, present, and future are connected.
  • Stewardship—A servant leader is a steward who holds an organization's resources in trust for the greater good.
  • Commitment to the growth of others—A servant leader is responsible for serving the need of others.
  • Building community—A servant leader is to help create a sense of community among people. (Larry Spears)

Five best practices that may help cultivate the characteristics of servant leadership:

  1. Right Identity: seeing oneself as a servant.
  2. Right motivation: serving God by serving others.
  3. Right method: relating to others in a positive manner.
  4. Right impact: inspiring others to serve a higher purpose.
  5. Right character: maintaining integrity and authenticity. (Paul T. P. Wong and Dean Davey)

Christians identify Jesus Christ as the model servant leader. Christ shared that he came not to be served but to serve. In addition to living a life exhibited by the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, a servant leader is humble and allows his/her words and deeds to speak for themselves. Ultimately, a servant leader desires to live a life of significance and to make a difference in the lives of others. (David Olive)