What is Servant Leadership?
Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy that has gained significant attention and recognition in recent years. This approach to leadership prioritises serving others and focuses on the growth and development of the leader’s followers. In this blog, we will examine the concept of servant leadership, its core principles, and its potential benefits for organisations and individuals.
Servant leadership was first introduced by Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as Leader.” Greenleaf defined servant leadership as “a servant first, and then as a leader.” This approach views leaders as servants of their followers, working to support and empower them in achieving their goals. Servant leadership prioritises the needs of the team over the personal ambition or power of the leader.
Core Principles of Servant Leadership:
The following are some of the core principles of servant leadership:
- Empathy: Servant leaders put themselves in their followers’ shoes, understanding their needs and concerns. They view their followers as partners, not subordinates.
- Empowerment: Leaders focus on empowering their followers, giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed. They believe that their role is to support and develop their followers, not to control them.
- Listening: Servant leaders listen actively to their followers, valuing their input and considering their perspectives. They view communication as a two-way street, and they seek to understand their followers’ needs and desires.
- Stewardship: Servant leaders view their role as stewards of their organisation, working to protect its mission and values. They believe that the organisation exists to serve a higher purpose, and they strive to maintain its integrity and reputation.
- Community building: Servant leaders aim to build a strong, cohesive community within their team, fostering a sense of belonging and collaboration. They believe that a supportive and inclusive work environment is essential for success.
- Personal growth: Servant leaders seek to support the personal and professional growth of their followers, helping them reach their full potential. They view their role as coaches and mentors, working to develop the skills and abilities of their followers.
Benefits of Servant Leadership:
The following are some of the potential benefits of servant leadership:
- Increased motivation and engagement: Servant leaders empower their followers, providing them with a sense of autonomy and ownership over their work. This can lead to increased motivation and engagement among team members.
- Improved job satisfaction: Servant leaders prioritise the well-being of their followers, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover.
- Increased trust: Servant leaders prioritise open communication and active listening, fostering trust and mutual respect between themselves and their followers.
- Improved organisational performance: Servant leadership can lead to a more positive work environment and improved organisational performance, as teams work together to achieve common goals.
In conclusion, servant leadership is a leadership philosophy that prioritises serving others and focuses on the growth and development of the leader’s followers. This approach can lead to increased motivation and engagement, improved job satisfaction, increased trust, and improved organisational performance. By embracing the principles of servant leadership, organisations can create a supportive and inclusive work environment that values the needs of both individuals and the organisation as a whole.
Greenleaf, R. (1977). The Servant as Leader. Indianapolis, IN: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center.
Northouse, P.G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Sage Publications.
Liden, R.C., Wayne, S.J., & Stilwell, D. (1993). Servant leadership