Servant leadership is a philosophy built around the simple idea of enriching the lives of others and creating an environment where everyone can succeed. A servant leader has the natural desire to lead first and help others by ways of leadership.
This is therefore not your average leader.
The servant-first mentality is a sharp contrast to the leader-first mentality, where power, control and collecting material possessions are most important.
If we think of servant-first and leader-first as two extremes of a spectrum, there are innumerable “in-betweens” with characteristics of each style.
This type of leader:
- Has a strong, natural desire to serve others first.
- Puts others’ needs at high priority.
- Leads to see others grow, prosper and thrive.
- Leads so others will be more free, autonomous and independent.
- Focuses on well-being and growth of ALL members, including the “stragglers.”
- Shares the power — there is no “top of the pyramid” leadership scheme.
The Seven Traits of a Servant Leader
1. Embraces Diverse Opinion and Thought
Rather than shying away from conflict, diversity or disagreement, a servant leader embraces such opportunities, to grow, learn and find a healthy compromise.
A servant leader actively seeks outside opinions from team members, peers, mentors and so on. A servant leader values the contributions and opinions of everyone.
2. Creates a Culture of Trust
Gossip, office politics and petty conflict have no place in the workplace under a servant leader.
Team members are empowered to support one another and find better, creative solutions, NOT pit against one another for personal gain.
3. Supports Other Leaders
Servant leaders take the time to develop and support other leaders by providing opportunities for growth and leading by example.
To do so, a servant leader must be willing to give up control, at times.
4. Encourages Personal Development
Servant leaders believe in and promote healthy work-life balance, by encouraging or facilitating improvements in their team members’ health, finances, education, family and so on.
The immediate impact may not be business-related, but they are important nonetheless.
5. Is Selfless
In addition, they think in terms of “you,” “we,” “us,” not “me” or “I.” The goal is always to find a solution or opportunity benefitting the whole, rather than just the individual (namely, the leader.)
An “every man for himself” mentality doesn’t work in servant leadership.
6. Sees the Bigger Picture
Servant leaders are all about the long game — not immediate gratification or results. They are looking towards the next leader, the next movement or generation of workers.
At times, it can translate into sacrificing what is a benefit today, in favor of what makes sense weeks, months or years from now.
7. Is Humble
The last thing a servant leader is NOT is egotistical, conceited or self-absorbed. The sheer essence of servant leadership is caring and working for the greater good of others.
A servant leader may assume duties or tasks considered “beneath” them because they understand it’s not about them, but about others.
What is your leadership style? Will you consider implementing servant leadership aspects into your routine? Let us know in the comments below.
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