servant leadership

Servant Leadership: An Exceptional Leadership Strategy 

Uncategorized 05 July 2024 7 Mins Read

Robert K. Greenleaf showed the way of a servant as a leader. A servant leader is as good as other types of business leaders. So, what’s different about them?  

Servant leadership comes from the basic instinct to serve. Then, the concerned develops a leadership spree to better serve the organization’s interests.   

Greenleaf’s book on servant leadership, Written in 1977, still relevant today. However, servant leaders are now more relevant than ever.   

First, servant leaders are internally recruited. In the same vein, a Forbes report found that 49.5% of US employers want to promote internal talents in leadership positions.   

Main principles mirrored in modern management theories  

Main principles mirrored in modern management theories

 Chronically, modern principles of servant leadership came to exist. Their amalgamated views shape the servant leader of modern workplaces.   

While defining what is servant leadership, Larry Spears observed that servant leaders should be impactful.   

In the same vein, Joe Iarocci talks about three more key principles. These are:  

  • Serving the interests of the organizations with the highest priority  
  • Being persuasive and goal-oriented  
  • Empowering team members to improve group performance   

Eventually, all modern principles are tallied with Greenleaf’s basic proposition of what a servant leader is.   

Characteristics of a Servant Leader  

Characteristics of a Servant Leader

Servant leaders think about the organization and its goals more than anyone. That’s the ideal image of servitude leadership.   

But that’s not their only quality. Let’s see how servant leaders are honed.   

Focus on serving others first  

Servant leadership is based on the principle of selfless service. In this regard, servant leaders must exhibit altruistic qualities. Again, the same attributes make them aware of the emotional and qualitative needs and gaps of others in the team/organization.   

Greenleaf said that the primary ideal for a servant leader would be “I am the leader because I serve.”   

Prioritizing the needs of others  

The passion to serve is not the only thing that servant leaders have. They have a clear vision of how to serve.   

Meanwhile, they are indeed less oriented to personal development goals. The organization’s growth with the people in it is its prime goal.   

However, skilled servent leadership always brings a priority order to serve the interest of an organization. As per modern business needs, the order should be:  

  • Having a clear vision to help the people in the organization to improve their skills   
  • Showing active involvement and empathy to keep an integrated team  
  • Modelling the best ways to improve team performance   
  • Appreciating and empowering the team to build upon their cognitive strengths.   

Helping others grow and become autonomous  

Servant leaders were once part of the team that they now lead. So, they must have a strong awareness of the skills and limitations of the team members.   

The strong association helps servant leaders in many ways. They can use the knowledge to empower the team members individually. Maybe work with them hands-on to overcome their limitations.   

Creating a virtuous circle of service  

Servant leadership, meaning endless servitude, also places high value on preaching the virtue of service.   

Most likely, the team under them would be equally loyal to the organization.   

Inspiring others towards a common goal  

If your team has a common goal, the integration and observance in the team would be something else. That’s why teams with servant leaders can stringently work on a common goal.   

Not seeking power, authority, money, or fame  

 How can you define servant leadership easily?  

Servant leaders don’t seek personal growth in a company.   

Let’s talk about Fred Smith, the FedEx CEO. He never patronized wealth, authority, or self-achievements. He instead wanted the employees to feel satisfied. He also leveraged resources to empower employees.   

His leadership philosophy was People-Service-Profit.   

Today, the success touchpoints of FedEx speak volumes in favor of this servant leadershio strategy.  

Qualities of a Servant Leader  

Qualities of a Servant Leader

Selflessness and peer support do not define servant leadership completely. There’s more to it. Here, we will see how servant leaders help an organization to thrive.   

Humility and self-awareness  

Servant leaders have strong self-awareness. That’s why they are most empathetic towards others.   

Let’s take Marriott‘s example here. Their executives are humble and take care of the personal needs of their associates.   

Consequently, the associates take care of Marriott’s heritage and service efficiency.   

Continuous learning and critical thinking  

According to LinkedIn, servant leaders are highly aware of their team. They have a clear and concise knowledge of the team’s abilities.   

That’s why they can sync the team’s goals with the company’s objectives.   

Having a clear vision and overarching purpose  

Servant leadership is selfless. Rather, servant leaders are driven by the individual development needs of their teams.   

Consequently, they also have a clear vision of the team and its current and future dynamics.   

Moreover, servant leaders are also purpose-driven. Their main goal is to achieve the company’s business objectives, But all successful servant leaders had to develop comprehensive tactics to achieve those objectives.   

Since they understand the strengths and limitations of the company better, they are more entrusted to develop a suitable business strategy.   

Listening and understanding  

What is servant leadership?  

The ability to detect the minutest strengths and limitations of the team. And making a decisive growth strategy capitalizing on the strengths and covering the gaps.  

They need strong communication and emotional connection with the team to do so.   

Experts say that active listening is the best technique to learn about the emotional needs of the team members.   

Out of all types of leaders, servant leaders are most adept as active listeners.   

Foresight and adaptability  

Servant leaders keep the interests of the organization in front. So, they also cautiously study the factors that may impact the organization.   

This foresight is essential to their vision for the organization’s growth and expansion.   

Achieving Success as a Servant Leader  

Achieving Success as a Servant Leader

A Servant leader succeeds through the growth and solidarity of their organization. They have no separate self-growth goals.   

Having a dream and vision  

Since servant leaders pursue everything that affects their company, they have a unique vision.   

Primarily, their vision breeds unique strategies that servant leaders follow in successful companies.   

Assertive behavior and discipline  

Servant leaders mostly enjoy high stewardship and have high moral standards. That’s why followers comply with the assertive guidance of servant leaders.   

Leading with a clear purpose  

Most successful servant leaders were purpose-driven. You can make a long list of them. Whether it’s Paul Polman from Unilever or Howard Schultz of Starbucks, a clear purpose is apparent in their leadership.   

Under Polman, Unilever became a canopy of FMCG brands. His leadership style and decisions were invited and supported by the rest of his company.   

Encouraging collaboration, trust, and empowerment  

Servant leaders prefer working with a hands-on approach. That’s why they collaborate well with their team.   

It also explains why people trust them. Above all, they aim to create a team of highly empowered individuals.   

Creating long-lasting change  

Servant leaders have remarkable systems-thinking skills. That’s why they can navigate the changing needs of an organization. In the face of complex market factors, servant leaders have a stand-apart plan to endure and grow.   

Extending servant leadership beyond business  

What is servant leaders according to you?  

Most leaders will say they are selfless and goal-oriented leaders. But servant leadership is a typology. It is no worked-out leadership tactic. Contrarily, it is a cult motive. Therefore, only a few become servant leaders.   

We find them in politics, society and other spheres of life beyond business too.   


Often, servant leadership is perceived as a form of transformative leadership. A clear vision and awareness of others’ strengths and weaknesses helps them manage changes in the company seamlessly. That’s why servant leaders are praised as good transformative leaders.  

As servant leaders have the organization’s business interests as the top priority, they are also selfless and amicable.   

Their actions are not only ethical. Servant leaders also cultivate new and positive organizational changes.   

Here, we built the ideology of transformational leadership around Greenleaf’s principles.   

The perspective and ideologies of servant leaders, as Greenleaf said, work invariably across many successful companies.   


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