Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the leader serves the needs of the people first.
The servant leader is someone who puts the needs of others above their own and works to help them reach their full potential.
Being a servant leader is not always easy. Many times it means making personal sacrifices for the good of others. But, if you’re called to servant leadership, it can be a very rewarding experience.
With that said, in this article, we will talk about the pros and cons of servant leadership, as well as some examples of how it can be used in the workplace and in your personal life.
Let’s get right into it.
What is Servant Leadership? Definition & Meaning
Some people are born leaders. They have a natural ability to motivate and inspire those around them. But, not everyone is born a leader.
If you’re not a natural leader, that doesn’t mean you can’t become one. Servant leadership is a philosophy that anyone can practice.
Servant Leader: 10 Characteristics & Key Qualities
The following are ten characteristics of a servant leader:
- The servant leader is someone who is humble and puts the needs of others before their own
- A servant leader is someone who is compassionate and cares about the well-being of others
- The servant leader is someone who is patient and takes the time to listen to others
- The servant leader is someone who is selfless and is always willing to help others
- A servant leader is someone who has a strong sense of integrity and always does the right thing
- The servant leader is upbeat, even in difficult situations
- The servant leader is visionary and always looks for ways to improve things
- A servant leader is someone who has a strong sense of responsibility and takes care of those around them
- The servant leader is someone who builds relationships based on trust and respect
- The servant leader is someone who leads by example and sets the standard for others to follow
Servant Leadership Example
Some examples of best practices and uses of servant leadership are:
- Helping people feel valued and appreciated. A good servant leader makes everyone feel important and valued, not just the people who are directly under them
- Encouraging people to reach their full potential. A good servant leader will help people grow and develop their skills, both professionally and personally
- Creating a positive work environment. A good servant leader creates a positive, supportive work environment where everyone feels comfortable taking risks and sharing ideas
- Solving problems efficiently. A good servant leader can solve problems quickly and effectively, without causing upset or drama
- Focusing on the big picture. A good servant leader can see the big picture and make decisions that are in the best interest of the team or organization, not just themselves.
The above are some examples of how servant leadership can be used in the workplace. But, it’s not just something that leaders can do. Everyone can practice this type of leadership in every interaction they have.
Best Jobs For Servant Leadership
Many jobs would be a good fit for someone with a servant leadership style.
Some of the best jobs for servant leaders include:
- Social Workers
- Business Executives
- Civil Servants
- Military Personnel
The above jobs all require someone who can put the needs of others before their own and who has a strong sense of compassion and integrity.
Servant Leadership Advantages and Disadvantages
List of 5 Pros of Servant Leadership
Some of the pros of servant leadership include:
- Servant leaders are focused on the needs of others, not themselves. This means that they are more likely to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team or organization, not just themselves
- Servant leaders create a positive, supportive work environment where everyone feels comfortable taking risks and sharing ideas
- Servant leaders can solve problems quickly and effectively, without causing upset or drama
- Servant leaders have a strong sense of integrity and always do the right thing
- Servant leaders are visionary and always look for ways to improve things
List of 5 Cons of Servant Leadership
Some of the cons of servant leadership include:
- Servant leaders can sometimes be too focused on the needs of others and not enough on their own. This can lead to them neglecting their own needs, which is not healthy for them or the team they are leading
- Servant leaders can often be taken advantage of because they are so willing to help others. They need to be careful not to let themselves get overwhelmed or burned out
- Servant leaders can be less effective when dealing with difficult situations or people who are resistant to change. Servant leaders may have difficulty making tough decisions that are not in the best interest of others
- Servant leaders can be seen as weak or ineffective by others who are not familiar with the concept of servant leadership
Who Is a Good Example of a Servant Leader?
Many people in the world are good examples of servant leaders, but you might not know who they are. They haven’t shown themselves on TV very often and they’re not always in the spotlight.
You might know them as the quiet person who always goes above and beyond for others or the one who is always willing to lend a helping hand.
One of the most well-known examples of a servant leader is Mahatma Gandhi. He was an Indian political leader who fought for India’s independence from British rule.
After years of peaceful protests and civil disobedience, Gandhi helped lead India to independence in 1947. He is also well-known for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance
List of servant leaders
Other examples of servant leaders include:
- Mother Teresa: A Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious order that assists the poor, sick, and dying
- Nelson Mandela: A South African political leader who fought against apartheid and was the first black president of South Africa
- Martin Luther King Jr.: An American Baptist minister and civil rights activist who fought for racial equality in the United States
- Dalai Lama: The spiritual leader of Tibet who has worked for years to promote peace and religious tolerance.
These are just a few examples of people who have demonstrated servant leadership throughout their lives. There are many more out there, both famous and unknown.
If you look around, you might be surprised at how many servant leaders there are in your community.
Bonus: What Is the Core & Main Role of a Servant Leader?
The main core of servant leadership is to serve others. This means that as a servant leader, you would put the needs of others above your own and do whatever you can to help them succeed.
A good servant leader gives a “piece of his energy” to encourage everyone at work and keep them motivated.
They create a positive, supportive work environment where everyone feels comfortable taking risks and sharing ideas.
A servant leader also has a strong sense of integrity and always does the right thing. In addition, they are visionary and always look for ways to improve things.
They have excellent communication skills and can build trust with others easily.
If you can embody these qualities, you are well on your way to becoming a great servant leader.
5 Amazing Books That Encourage Servant Leadership Style
The following are some great books to read when it comes to learning more about servant leadership.
Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness 25th Anniversary Edition, Robert Greenleaf
When servant leadership was less known than it is now, empowering employees caused many employers to reconsider their views about power and authority.
In this book, Greenleaf goes over many great ideas on how to motivate employees while at the same time being an effective leader.
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek
This book is all about the importance of creating a positive work environment.
It shows how happy employees lead to a more productive and successful workplace by emphasizing the idea that “leaders eat last.”
Great leaders put the well-being of their team above their own, and this book is a great guide on how to do just that.
The Servant Leader: How to Build a Creative Team, Develop Great Morale, and Improve Bottom-Line Performance, James A. Autry
Having been a Fortune 500 executive, Autry focuses on honesty, love, spirituality, and respect as the core ingredients for a productive workforce and how servant leadership is the key to unlocking them.
Increasing team morale and avoiding burnout in the workplace are essential skills for any leader and Autry does an excellent job of outlining how to do just that.
The Serving Leader: Five Powerful Actions That Will Transform Your Team, Your Business, and Your Community, Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert
This is a parable that features a dying father and the lesson he teaches his son about the power of servant leadership.
Through the story, Jennings and Stahl-Wert emphasize the importance of putting others first and how doing so can have a transformative effect on not just your team, but also your community as a whole.
The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle: How to Become a Servant Leader, James C. Hunter
If you think that being a servant leader means being like a leaf in the wind, then this book is for you.
Hunter outlines the characteristics of a servant leader and provides concrete examples of how to put them into practice.
He also debunks some of the myths that surround servant leadership and provides readers with the tools they need to become successful servant leaders themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions About Servant Leadership
What are the four main principles of servant leadership?
The four main principles of servant leadership are humility, listening, empathy, and stewardship.
These principles are meant to guide leaders in their interactions with others and their decision-making.
Using these principles in your leadership will help you create a more positive and productive environment.
What is the goal of servant leadership?
The goal of servant leadership is to serve others and help them reach their potential. This type of leader puts the needs of others first and works to empower them.
Servant leaders often have a strong moral compass and are motivated by making a difference in the lives of others.
How do you know if you are a servant leader?
If you find yourself frequently putting the needs of others before your own, then you may be a servant leader.
Other signs include being highly ethical, having a strong moral compass, and being motivated by making a difference in the world.
If you suspect you may be a servant leader, ask trusted colleagues and friends if they agree.