DEFINITION of ‘Servant Leadership’ from INVESTOPEDIA
A leadership philosophy in which an individual interacts with others – either in a management or fellow employee capacity – with the aim of achieving authority rather than power. The authority figure intends to promote the well-being of those around him/her. Servant leadership involves the individual demonstrating the characteristics of empathy, listening, stewardship and commitment to personal growth toward others.
Dan Rockwell over at Leadership Freak describes a servant leadership as:
Servant leaders make life better for others. Influence is portioned to the extent you improve life for others.
Resentment and bitterness reveal self-serving leadership. Servant leaders serve freely and joyfully. Service is privilege and opportunity not oppression. Resentment indicates you didn’t get what you expected.
Servant leaders experience freedom by giving themselves to others.
Servant leaders seek the advantage of others without degrading themselves. Values, gifts, and self-respect guide servant leaders. You can’t walk on servant leaders. They are the strongest people I know. Servant leaders don’t violate their values or ethical standards – they serve them.
Servant leaders place organizational interests above their own. The day you receive more value than you give is the day to find a new place of service. The question servant leaders ask is, “What value can I bring?”
Servant leaders thrive in organizations that believe in serving. Dog-eat-dog cultures build self-protective, self-serving environments that abuse those who serve. Run!
Servant leaders enjoy reciprocity when recipients are capable. Service is it’s own reward. Some are not able to return benefit. But, the best way to server takers is not to serve them.
Servant leaders choose development before discipline. Poor performers are moved or removed so they can find success and fulfillment elsewhere. But, servant leaders give maximum effort to developing team members, before taking corrective action.
This kind of leadership doesn’t have the attitude of a snake and the smell of a skunk. It is a leadership as soft as a kitten and bold as a lion. It is the type of leadership that has a compassion for people. It seems to be a leadership that is easy to do but hard. It takes a lot of work to be a servant and yet not be a push over. It takes a life time to learn, to accomplish and yet rewarding.
Ronald Reagan had some of the qualities of a servant leader. He stood up to the evil empire and won. It wasn’t by combat but standing his ground. He called communism what it was evil. His speeches encouraged and made one laugh.
Audie L Murphy could be considered a servant leader. He lead his men from the front not the back. He wasn’t afraid to take a bullet for his men. He was humble yet bold.
I am going to quote myself from one of my blog post on Martin Luther King, Jr. He is another servant leader. Martin Luther King inspired others to follow him in his crusade to right a wrong.
“Martin Luther King was a man of God. He saw a wrong and rose to meet the challenge. He didn’t sway off course in meeting the challenge until it was done. He was martyred. It is a shame we need more wise warriors like him in this day.”