The Servant Leader: Service to Others Before Self.

I am currently taking a doctoral course on servant leadership, and it has been very insightful to learn about the characteristics and qualities of this leadership model. While the concept was developed and introduced by Robert Greenleaf back in the 1970’s, it has only begun to really take hold in the professional community over the last decade. The essence of servant leadership is simple: service to others first and foremost. The servant leader neglects self in order to serve and care for the needs of others. While the concept is simple, the implementation is not. It requires a special leader to embrace and live out this principle of service on a daily basis. Most leaders are not willing to sacrifice their position in order to serve the needs of others, but that is what makes a servant leader so special and unique. Over the next few weeks I will be examining the 10 key characteristics of servant leadership, as outlined by Spears & Lawrence (2002):

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Healing
  • Awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Conceptualization
  • Foresight
  • Stewardship
  • Commitment to the growth of people
  • Building community

While this is not an exhaustive list, it does capture the key qualities and attributes of servant leadership. I will be exploring each one in the coming weeks to explain how a servant leader models these characteristics. In the meantime, think about the concept of servant leadership, and ask yourself if you possess any of these qualities. Perhaps you are more of a servant leader than you realize.

Spears, L. C., & Lawrence, M. (2002). Focus on Leadership: Servant-leadership for the Twenty-first Century.  John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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