Servant Leadership: What is it? (Part 2)

In my previous blog post, I discussed five of Robert Greenleaf’s ten principles of Servant Leaders. Greenleaf developed the concept by observing great leaders that he had known throughout his career. These were prototype servant leaders, even though it is doubtful that anyone ever applied that title to them.

Here are the remaining five principles of a Servant Leader:

  1. Conceptualization
    Servant Leaders have the ability to be visionary, and they raise the ability to be visionary in others. They can see both the long-term solutions and the short-term approach that should be taken. This is the difference between a mere “visionary” leader and a Servant Leader. A visionary leader may be the eyes for others, but a Servant Leader enables others to use their own eyes. It is this ability to see the big picture that gives both perspective and peace in turmoil.
  2. Foresight
    Servant Leaders are intuitive and have a way of being able to make decisions that are based on the past, present, and the future. Some leaders make decisions based solely upon the past. Others seem oblivious to the past. Servant Leaders develop an appreciation for all three components of time. This is called wisdom, and if a leader can lead with genuine wisdom, he/she is providing a great service to both individuals and the organization.
  3. Stewardship
    Servant Leaders understand they are entrusted with things that are not their own, and that their legacy will ultimately be tied to how trustworthy they were with those things. It’s not just financial assets for which Servant Leaders must give an account; it’s also intangible things such as: culture, values, morale, credibility, and influence.
  4. The Growth of Others
    Greenleaf wrote that the best test of Servant Leadership was simply: Are the followers growing as people and are they, while being served, more likely to become servants themselves. The Servant Leader understands that the leader is responsible for more than just the bottom line. To borrow a thought from a more recent book, he/she is a “Multiplier”. The Servant Leader makes developing those around him/her a major priority.
  5. Building Community
    The Servant Leader builds true community by inspiring people to work towards a shared vision. Relationships are forged around a vision that sustains the human spirit, recognizes the value of every person, and creates synergy. Rosabeth Moss Kanter has suggested that the most radical thing a leader can do is to connect people to others, and the Servant Leader is intentional about fostering relationships.

No organization ever suffered from having too many Servant Leaders. If you want to raise your value, become a Servant Leader. If you want to raise the value of your organization, transform it into a team of Servant Leaders.

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Director of Leadership Development, Strategic Government Resources

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