Inspire, create, become

Good leaders must first become good servants

The word of Robert Greenleaf who in 1970 as a retired AT and T executive coined the term “servant leadership” in an essay called The Servant as Leader. In it he said, “The servant leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. The conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. He or she is sharply different from the person who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such it will be a later choice to serve, after leadership is established. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant first to make sure that peoples’ highest priority needs are being met.”

The ten characteristics of servant leadership

Greenleaf further identified ten characteristics of authentic servant leadership, worth considering in our current leadership contexts.

Listening; intently to others and to your own inner voice.

Empathy; the acceptance and recognition of others.

Healing; of yourself and of others, the intentional pursuit of wholeness and transformation.

Awareness; self awareness is key to effective servant leadership, knowing your identity, your motivation, your shadow side, your weaknesses.

Persuasion; rather than positional authority where a title is more important, persuasion utilises character and authenticity to effect change.

Conceptualization; the capacity to dream and creating the space to do so, to think out of the box and expand your horizons.

Foresight; understanding the past in the context of the present with a view to anticipating and planning for the future,

Stewardship; holding something in trust for another, managing reputation or developing skills and abilities.

Commitment to the growth of people; a genuine interest in supporting people to realise their potential.

Building community; shared experience, a common story, mutual encouragement for those who work together.

Servant leadership is a long term, collaborative approach, not a quick fix, but can produce significant results.

Servant Leadership