8 Distinguishing Qualities of a Servant Leader

Binod Bhandari
Sep 29, 2017 · 3 min read

Leading with Others in Mind

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about a servant leader is a leader that takes the role of a servant. With a little exaggeration into consideration, the definition would look like;

As you drive into work, your head or manager meets you at your car door (which ever applies), opens the door, and welcomes you to the office. Or the leader comes into the office with a cup of coffee for you around mid-morning. Then in the afternoon he comes in to see if you need anything. Another instance could be that he is at your beck and call whenever you need an assistance on a project, or maybe you need someone to do the boring stuff.

This is not servant leadership, in fact it is far from it.

Servant leadership is a combination and balance between a leader and a servant. You don’t drop your leadership qualities to become a servant leader. There are several qualities of a servant leader, but for this article I would focus on the top 8 qualities in my opinion.

1. Cultivate a culture of trust

A servant leader cultivates and promotes the culture of trust in an organization. In a servant-led organization, workers don’t meet around the water cooler to gossip.

2. Encourages

Encouragement is the hallmark of a servant leader. A real servant leader does not assign a task and hands off he says, “Let’s go do it”, not, “You go do it.”

3. Values diverse opinions

A servant leader is someone who values everyone’s input and constantly demands the opinion of others. If you go behind the back of the leader to air your views on the leader’s opinion, you are definitely not being led by a servant leader.

4. Develops other leaders

The art of being able to reproduce your qualities in others is an important quality of servant leadership. It is known as the replication factor. It involves teaching others to lead, thereby providing opportunities for growth and leading by example. In this scenario, a servant leader is not only leading, but also delegating and giving up power for others to lead.

5. Helps people with issues beyond work

It is always essential as a leader you offer opportunities for personal development that goes beyond the job. For instance, you could run a campaign or a program to lose weight, or lower personal debt. These programs might have no significant importance to the firm but each individual might be helpful to your employees or subordinates.

6. Sells instead of tells

A servant leader uses persuasive styles and acts in opposition to a dictator, meaning he is not commanding.

7. Thinks long-term

A servant leader is always thinking about the next step, the next generation, and the next opportunity. He is always has to make decisions between what would benefit the firm today against tomorrow. His choices are usually geared towards the future. He always sees the bigger picture.

8. Thinks “you”, not “me”

A servant leader is always looking out for your best interest.

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