Servant Leadership … what IS that?
Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term “servant leadership” in an essay he first published in 1970, saying:
“The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to satisfy a strong power drive or to acquire material possessions. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. The leader who is servant first ensures that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.”
Put simply: Servant Leaders intentionally focus on identifying and meeting the needs of others … it is this that motivates them to influence and lead … rather than to acquire power, wealth, popularity and fame for themselves.
Let’s face it: there are leaders who are in it for themselves … and leaders who are in it for others. From my personal experience across various industries, organisations and in even the public service arena, those who focus on others needs and support others development, and consider ‘good for the greater good’ community needs in making decisions, are the most effective leaders.
S E R V E … Servant Leadership Strengths
S - Servant leaders are visionary – they have strong self-awareness and situational awareness, and the foresight to join the dots and see the bigger picture – the potential future.
E - Servant leaders engage – they listen with genuine interest and are committed to the growth and development of people and their community.
R - Servant leaders continually learn, create and reinvent – they look at problems as opportunities to design better solutions, conceptualizing ideas bigger and beyond the general day-to-day, issue-by-issue focus.
V – Servant leaders value people, relationships and end results – in that order. They understand the importance of building a trusted community where people feel they belong.
E – Servant leaders have strong values that fit with a natural desire to serve others. This ‘calling’ to serve is deeply rooted and value-based on making a difference for other people and their community.
If serving is below you ... Leadership is beyond you.
Are you a servant leader? Take a look in the mirror … it all starts with self-awareness.
Test yourself with these
10 personal challenge questions?
- Do people believe that you want to hear their ideas and will value them?
- Do people believe that you will understand what is happening in their lives and how it affects them?
- Do others tend to come to you when their tanks are low and options are few, especially when something traumatic has happened in their lives?
- Do others believe you have a strong sense of clarity and keen insight into what is going on?
- Do others follow up on your requests because they want to, or because they have to?
- Do others contribute their ideas and vision for the good of the group when you are around?
- Do others have confidence in your ability to anticipate the results of decisions and their consequences?
- Do others believe you are preparing them to make a positive difference in the world?
- Do people believe that you are committed to helping them learn, grow and develop as a whole person?
- Do people believe that you are willing to sacrifice self-interest for the good of the group?
Yes … the questions are all about how OTHERS perceive your intent, purpose, behaviours, responses, and decisions … how others see you, feel about your leader style, and what beliefs they form about whether to trust and follow your leadership.
What type of leader you are … is up to you. You design and own your leadership style … your intent and purpose … your behaviours and actions.
Leadership has nothing to do with position or status … and everything to do with what you practice.
If you would like to develop your servant leadership strengths, we’d love to help you do that.
Our most popular product is Vital SEIP Review, which includes a Social + Emotional Intelligence Profile – SEIP online assessment and a comprehensive 40 page individualised report … is a valuable starting base to identify your strengths and weaknesses. We package that with 3 personal coaching sessions to support your learning.
If you would like this blog as a printable tool for your leadership kit, just ask us for our 'Servant Leadership handout' and we will send it to you directly.