Skip to content


What Is Servant Leadership?

What Is Servant Leadership?

So, you want to learn the art of servant leadership? This leadership approach has taken off in the modern workplace.

A great leader motivates, inspires, and builds trust within their team. Many management styles work to achieve this result. However, servant leadership is an employee-first focused methodology that ensures success. 

Based on the idea of the servant as a leader, servant leadership is employee-focused. No better leadership style focuses on improving productivity, inclusivity, and teamwork.

If you want to adapt your management styles, read our article on servant leadership and where you can improve your leadership skills

What does servant leadership mean?

Servant leadership is a leadership model that emphasizes the needs of the followers before the needs of the leader. A servant leader understands the priority of the larger good, the team, and their organization ahead of their objectives. 

It is a form of authentic leadership based on the principle that leaders are genuine, transparent, and self-aware. Also known as people managers, servant leadership aims to empower employees and facilitate growth, aka team servants. 

Loyalty and trust are characteristics of servant leadership. By putting the team first, they build their confidence, support decision-making, risk-taking, and collaboration. They also ensure the team has the required resources, materials, budget, and skills to work effectively. 

While servant leadership is popular in modern workplaces, the term is relatively old. Robert Greenleaf's essay in 1970 coined the term, since then, leadership theorists have adopted the concept for contemporary organizations. 

"It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first," wrote Robert Greeleafs, according to the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. The Center promotes successful leadership strategies and continues to educate on Greenleaf's theories. 

Traditionally leaders were more focused on their career progression and goals rather than the overall success of the team and organization. 

Other approaches to leadership, such as traditional leadership, transactional leadership, bureaucratic leadership, and autocratic leadership, are all hierarchic. These leadership theories enforce the prescribed structure of the organization over the individual employee's needs. 

Servant leadership, on the other hand, emphasizes the success of everyone. By ensuring your team does well, so will you. 

What are the principles of servant leadership?

The principles of servant leadership focus on developing the strength of the team as a whole. Servant leadership aims to have a positive impact on the growth of people within the organization. Here are some essential characteristics of servant leadership:

1. Commitment

Leadership in the modern workplace must show commitment to the growth of the community ahead of their advancement. It is a style of leadership that puts the needs of the employees first. 

2. Selflessness

Inherently, a characteristic of servant leadership is selflessness. A leader should be humble and allow their team to thrive without taking credit. They should acknowledge the team's success and skills and accept their role is simply that of a supporter. 

3. Empathy

Servant leadership focuses on how employees feel. A successful leader understands his team's strengths and weaknesses and adapts business solutions depending on their employees' learning. 

4. Listening

A servant leader should lead by example and encourage active listening in the workplace. Pay attention to each team member to solve a conflict, foster collaboration, and improve productivity. Plus, employees who feel listened to are more likely to respect the organization, improving employee satisfaction and retention. 

5. Awareness and foresight

Leaders should be highly aware of the team's strengths, weaknesses, and learning methods. A strong leader predicts potential issues or conflicts before they arise. They know when to intervene and when to let the team learn by figuring it out themselves. 

6. Community-focused

The priority of a servant leader is to build community. Encouraging collaboration within the organization and emphasizing the growth of people is key to success. By serving their team, they encourage their team to adopt this community-first approach similarly. 

Why is servant leadership important?

Servant leadership typically leads to a more productive and positive work environment. Businesses that adopt a servant leadership model improve employee engagement.

By building community and encouraging collaboration, leadership experts suggest that organizations create more substantial teams. In an environment where teams feel valued by other colleagues, productivity is more harmonious and creative.

A positive work environment encourages people to work together with business leaders towards a shared goal. Successful servant leadership eradicates the competitive attitude that is detrimental towards business objectives.

Building a sense of community creates a more inclusive employee experience which allows unrestrained expression, trust, and loyalty. Employee development is likely to improve in an environment where colleagues don't feel judged by one another. 

Servant leadership also focuses on the talent development of everyone in the organization. The organization invests in its future by supporting lower teams to take responsibility and make decisions that affect the business, which is vital for succession and employee retention. 

On the other hand, the cons of servant leadership include taking longer to reach goals, difficulty training a community-first mindset and being resource-intensive. However, it is one of the more effective leadership styles for long-term success.

How to develop servant leadership skills?

To develop your servant leadership style, you firstly need to make a conscious choice to be an effective servant leader. 

Transforming leadership styles requires effort, patience, and a willingness to learn. To practice servant leadership, improve your empathy, awareness, and listening skills. 

At Courses for Success, we offer a Servant Leadership Online Certificate Course that teaches you about this type of leadership. The course focuses on building a community, creating future leaders, and retraining your mindset to leadership team-first. The course comprehensively covers everything you need for your servant leadership development. 

Why Courses for Success?

Courses for Success offers over 10,000 online courses, all of which aim to help you in your personal development and career progression. Not only that, but you can also study them anywhere and at any time, and take them at your own pace, too.

You don't need career diplomas or specific experience to get started. From our coding courses and trading courses to design courses and developer courses, every course we offer will help boost your prospects, no matter who you are.

Beyond just the education itself, students will be issued a certificate online after completing each of the learning courses they do. Our online servant leadership courses are no exception and are recognized by industry leaders. You could make a name for yourself by signing up for a Courses for Success short course today.

Previous article What Is Acupressure And How Does It Work?
Next article What Is Shamanic Healing And How Does It Work?