the CORE Belief of the Online Alliance
Servant Leadership is an approach to leadership development, coined and defined by Robert Greenleaf and further advanced by authors such as Stephen Covey. (Robert Greenleaf is recognized as the father of servant leadership having first defined the term in 1977 notwithstanding the fact that Chanakya, the famous strategic thinker from ancient India, wrote about servant leadership in 4th century B.C). The concept of servant leadership in western culture can be traced back to Jesus Christ about 2000 years ago.
Servant Leadership Characteristics
The characteristics of a servant leader are listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, visualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth and development of others and building collaborative communities. Servant leadership centres on people and building healthy relationships with them. Organizations practising servant leadership are values-driven, not rules driven like hierarchical bureaucratic, command-and-control organizations.
The focus on people and relationships places servant leadership squarely in the sustainable marketing field. Servant leadership thus produces happy employees, and happy employees are the most productive and best brand ambassadors. With servant leadership, everybody wins employees, employers, customers, and the community. The concept of servant leadership works with all kinds of organizations, from big corporations to not-for-profit entities, and even for churches and parishes, universities, and foundations. It is particularly effective in ‘network structured’ business models like network marketing or multi-level marketing.
The most difficult piece of servant leadership I think, is that it must be in some way supported by the culture of the organization in order to be wholly effective. If you are to employ servant leadership you have to be prepared to be dedicated to educating others how to be servant leaders, and you must have enough emotional intelligence to accept little or no recognition whilst paying that recognition forward to the higher servant. Stephen Covey, emphasizes the competitive importance of servant leadership as it relates to the empowerment of others. He said…
“The deepest part of human nature is that which urges people-each one of us-to rise above our present circumstance and to transcend our nature. If you can appeal to it, you can tap into a whole new source of human motivation. A great movement is taking place in the world today. It’s roots, I believe, are to be found in two powerful forces. One is the dramatic globalization of markets and technology.”
The second force – Servant Leadership the, “timeless, universal principles that have governed, and always will govern, all enduring success, especially those principles that give ‘air’ and ‘life’ and creative power to the human spirit that produces value in markets, organisations, families, and most significantly, individuals lives.” The basic idea of servant leadership is for the leader to assure that those for whom he or she has responsibility are provided with the information, tools, training and support needed for them to do the work to which they have been called.
Servant Leadership requires Emotional Intelligence
Servant leadership is about making sure you are fair to your people, don’t run them like indentured servants, have a strong interest in helping them grow, and understand how actions of the company affect their families hopes and dreams. In my mind, servant leadership is about being present, responsive, authentic, and giving direction. Another critical component of servant leadership is coaching and mentoring. Servant leadership is a lifelong journey that includes the discovery of one’s self, a desire to serve others and a commitment to lead.
Unlike leadership approaches with a top-down style, servant leadership instead emphasizes collaboration (which does not mean decision stagnation – the leader must be decisive) and, trust, empathy, and the ethical use of power. Leaders are: courageous, believe in people, are value driven self-confident visionaries, lifelong learners, high energy people, stress tolerant and emotionally secure. Servant leadership is a combination of three things: leading, following and being open to change.
To lead with a servant heart is a matter of Integrity, whereby your Being, Thinking, Speaking and Acting must be congruent with ‘Self’ and your organizations or communities values.