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Servant Leadership

What is Leadership?

A leader is a person who takes charge of leading a group or community of people to the defined and designated goal. There are very many types of leaders like democratic leaders, autocratic leaders, transactional leaders, transformational leaders, servant leaders, etc.

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Who is a Servant Leader?

The servant leaders are the philosophical type of leaders, whose main goal as a leader is to serve the mass. They are entirely different from other traditional types of leaders who work and aim to achieve the goal of the company.

The term was first coined by Robert Greenleaf, who was known as a ‘servant leader’ in the year 1970 in an essay called – “The Servant as a Leader”. This essay covers the topic of what is a servant leader and what it means to be a servant leader. Robert Greenleaf founded a non-profitable organization called, “Centre for Servant Leadership at 1964”.

Attributes of Servant Leadership

Here Greenleaf states that the following to be the main characteristics of a servant leader.

  • Listens – Pay attention to enhance the interpersonal communication which helps to solve the conflict situations and enhance the relationship within the organization.
  • Stewardship – Any servant leader consider the organization as its family business entity to develop and maintain the stakeholders an organizations reputation.
  • Empathy – Ability to understand the issues and emotions of team members. Deep understanding helps you to support your teammates.
  • Commitment to the team growth – Servant Leaders take responsibilities themselves to develop the organization as well as fellow member’s growth.
  • Persuasive – To develop the organization welfare, one should influence the customers, partners and members with positive negotiation.
  • Strong commitment to developing team interests
  • Awareness – Self-awareness leads to understanding the personal bias which helps to avoid the ignorant situation and understand the other’s weakness, emotions and values to guide them positively.
  • Conceptualization – Develop the ability to predict future trends and make the possibilities in present.
  • Foresight – Deep study on past and present records of the organization helps to plan a better future and guide us to avoid the tragedy.
  • Healing – Create a strong trusted bond with co-workers and give the confidence to support them from their failure / emotional issues which help to create emotional attachment.

He first serves to the needs of his team and helping them in finding the growth and accomplishments by helping each other.

The following is the passage quoted in the essay of Mr. Greenleaf, “A servant can only become a leader if the leader remains the servant”.

This quote can be explained like this – A great leader can reach great heights of success and goodwill if he takes care of his subordinates and starts seeing things on their eye level and help them grow. Through this, the servant leader helps his servant to improve his skill sets by making him wise.

What should be the intention of servant leaders?

The motto of servant leadership is to serve and not to lead. With such evident qualities, the servant leader has to understand, there are leadership qualities in every individual. The servant leader must bring the latent talents and skills from every individual of the team.

Greatest Servant Leaders of Modern Time

Greenleaf states that a good leader leads the group to what they are proficient of. Seeing such servants the group will naturally make that person be the leader. They are the leaders that come from self-sacrifice, and role models that others can follow.

Martin Luther King

Abraham Lincoln

Mahatma Gandhi

Mother Teresa

Nelson Mandela

Albert Schweitzer

Mother Teresa said, “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” Sacrifice her whole life for people of Calcutta from poverty and leprosy. She is the role model for nonviolence practitioners in India and several individual social workers.

This post of leadership comes from maintaining the pace and reaching the goal as a leader when the team themselves have put their faith and trust in the leader in hope to reach the potentials they cannot achieve alone.

Example: Bill and Melinda Gates foundation “ONE” is the world’s largest funding private foundation that strongly working on to eradicate the Polio from all over the world. Almost they achieve and improve healthcare with local co-workers and institutions.

Application of Servant Leadership

Robert Greenleaf has brought a union between two different characters – Servant and Leader. This being said, it can also be assumed that Servant Leader is a more practical approach than theoretical. The person has to remember that he is there to serve people which is 24/7/365 days’, that cannot be taken for granted. Leadership is more on the way of life path than being a job assigned.

The application of servant leadership can be applied anywhere and wherever necessary, private sector, public sector, profit or non- profit is not a thing to be taken into account like hospitals, Schools, elderly home, special institutions, etc.

While the application is possible everywhere, so is the feedback. Unlike, hierarchical leadership feedback reaches the management easily. Feedback and suggestions received from the lower level staff are taken seriously by the servant leaders that can help the leader in doing better management and planning.

A fallacy about Servant Leadership

  • The term leadership is itself stereotyped with a notion of only working for self. And servant leadership breaks that notion of self-centring.
  • Adoption of this leadership style takes lots of time, training. Which is untrue, servant leadership believes all born to be positive, benevolent leader.
  • Servant leadership can be used only in the non-profit organization like NGO, PHC or certain service-related profession like a doctor, etc.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Stephen Emmanuel Swai May 10, 2023, 5:44 pm

    I inspired to adopt servant leader attribute

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