• Jeff Doolittle

What's Servant Leadership?


What's Servant Leadership

Have you ever wondered what servant leadership is? Maybe you already understand the basic concepts but have specific questions about how servant leadership differs from other leadership styles or if a servant leadership approach is appropriate for a diverse team. The costs of poor leadership often show up in the workplace disguised as low employee engagement, a lack of team cohesion and collaboration, high employee turnover, and failed execution. This article highlights examples of servant leadership in business using a complex global organization. The benefits of servant leadership are evident to followers, teams, and organizations.


The Servant Leadership Style Described


Robert Greenleaf is attributed by most as the founder of servant leadership, described a servant leader as a servant first and used the following test to answer the question, what's servant leadership?

The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived. ~Greenleaf & Spears

The following short video from leadership guru, Ken Blanchard provides some thoughts on the power of servant leadership in today's workplace.


10 Characteristics of Servant Leadership


People are looking for leaders that possess the following characteristics:

  1. listening to self and others

  2. empathy

  3. healing self and others

  4. awareness

  5. persuasion

  6. conceptual thinking

  7. foresight

  8. stewardship of other's needs

  9. commitment to people development

  10. building community

These characteristics are foundational to understanding the servant leadership style. However, these characteristics alone do not fully capture servant leadership.