7 Characteristics of Servant Leadership

The leadership concept known as “servant leadership” places priority on serving others first and foremost. Instead of exercising authority and power in the way that traditional leadership does, it prioritizes followers’ needs and gives them the tools they need to fulfill their potential.

We will examine the characteristics of servant leadership and its importance in this post.

What Is Servant Leadership

The idea of servant leadership has become more popular in recent years as a result of how well it fosters employee engagement, productivity, and overall organizational success.

It is founded on the notion that managers should serve their teams, putting their members’ interests ahead of their own. They foster an atmosphere of trust, cooperation, and personal development by doing this.

Robert K. Greenleaf is the first recorded proponent of servant leadership with his book released in 1970. He defined servant leadership as a philosophy whereby leaders put other people’s needs first and support them in becoming their best selves.

A servant leader has a sincere desire to help, uplift, and make it possible for others to succeed.

Core Principles of Servant Leadership

At the core of servant leadership lie several principles that guide the actions and mindset of a servant leader. These principles include:

  1. Putting others first: A servant leader prioritizes the needs of their team members and works to support their growth and well-being.
  2. Leading with empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others is crucial for a servant leader. They actively listen and seek to comprehend the perspectives and emotions of their followers.
  3. Fostering collaboration: Servant leaders emphasize teamwork and create an inclusive environment where everyone’s contributions are valued.
  4. Acting with integrity: A servant leader operates with honesty, authenticity, and ethical behavior. They inspire trust and set a positive example for others to follow.

Characteristics of a Servant Leader

To fully embrace servant leadership, individuals must embody certain characteristics. These characteristics include:

Empathy and Listening

Empathy is one of the core traits of servant leadership. Servant leaders are acutely sensitive to the feelings, worries, and aspirations of their team members.

They attentively listen to their needs and viewpoints, fostering an environment that is safe and encouraging for a candid conversation. Servant leaders may create solid connections built on trust and respect by engaging in empathy and active listening.

Healing and Emotional Intelligence

Because they have emotional intelligence, servant leaders can identify and tend to the emotional needs of their team members. They are aware of the fact that people bring their whole selves to work and are sensitive to the difficulties and problems that may have an impact on how well they perform.

Servant leaders offer encouragement, direction, and support to their team members so they can overcome challenges and advance both personally and professionally.

Self-awareness and Personal Growth

Servant leaders are always working to better themselves and advance personally. They actively seek feedback to improve their leadership abilities because they are conscious of their strengths, limitations, and prejudices. 

By investing in their own growth, team members see them as role models and are motivated to make similar investments in their development.

Persuasion and Influence

To accomplish corporate objectives, servant leaders rely more on persuasion and influence than on positional power. They set a good example for their team and motivate them with their values and deeds.

Servant leaders develop a sense of ownership and empowerment among their followers by encouraging participation, collaboration, and shared decision-making rather than employing coercive or dictatorial approaches.

Conceptualization and Vision

Servant leaders can look beyond the current situation and tasks. They think strategically and have a long-term view to picture a brighter future for their group and company.

Servant leaders encourage others to strive toward a common objective and coordinate their efforts in pursuit of a shared cause by developing and expressing an inspiring vision.

Related: 12 Principles of Vision in Leadership Development 

Stewardship and Responsibility

The well-being of their team members and the organization as a whole is a responsibility that servant leaders accept as stewards. 

They make judgments that are in the best interests of the team and stakeholders while acting as stewards of the resources entrusted to them. Servant leaders make sure that the company runs morally and responsibly and are responsible for the results of their leadership.

Building Community and Fostering Collaboration

A helpful workplace atmosphere where people feel valued and connected is created by servant leaders. They promote cooperation, teamwork, and the exchange of information and concepts.

Servant leaders foster synergy and cooperation by fostering a strong sense of community, which enhances creativity, problem-solving skills, and innovation.

Commitment to the Growth of Others

Servant leaders are devoted to their team members’ personal and professional development. They offer possibilities for learning and skill development, coaching, and mentoring.

Servant leaders aggressively encourage their followers in achieving their professional goals by taking the time to understand their aspirations and goals.

Servant leaders foster a culture of ongoing learning and development by placing a high priority on others’ personal development.

Related: 12 Principles of Leadership Development by Myles Munroe

Benefits of Servant Leadership

Organizations and their members can benefit greatly from servant leadership. Employee satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty grow when leaders put their followers’ needs first. 

Employee commitment and motivation are also higher when they feel appreciated, respected, and supported. Improved performance, productivity, and overall organizational success follow from this.

Servant Leadership in Organizations

Several organizations now recognize servant leadership as a successful leadership style. It has been demonstrated to raise company performance overall and increase employee engagement and happiness.

Organizations can foster a healthy and effective work environment by placing a high priority on the well-being and development of their employees.

Examples of Servant Leadership

Throughout history, several well-known leaders have demonstrated servant leadership. Mahatma Gandhi, who led the peaceful Indian independence campaign, is one prominent example. Gandhi stressed empathy, inclusion, and other people’s empowerment in his servant leadership style.

Nelson Mandela is another illustration, who showed servant leadership while serving as president of South Africa. Mandela exemplified servant leadership in his dedication to rapprochement, forgiveness, and equality.

The life of Jesus Christ is also an example of servant leadership. He literally gave up himself to lead his followers to the vision of eternal and fulfilled life he promised them.


A potent style of leadership known as servant leadership places a strong emphasis on helping others and promoting their development and well-being.

Servant leaders develop thriving and long-lasting organizational cultures by exhibiting the qualities of empathy, healing, self-awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, stewardship, community-building, and dedication to progress.

Servant leadership is more important than ever in a world that is becoming more complex and interdependent.

See: How To Become A Leader by Dr. Myles Munroe


1. What is the difference between servant leadership and traditional leadership?

Servant leadership emphasizes serving others and prioritizing their needs, while traditional leadership focuses on authority and power.

2. How can servant leadership be developed and cultivated?

Servant leadership can be developed through self-reflection, seeking feedback, and practicing empathy and active listening.

3. Is servant leadership suitable for all types of organizations?

Yes, servant leadership can be beneficial in every type of organization, as the very definition of leadership itself is leading a team to a vision and the best way to lead them is through service.

4. Can servant leadership be effective in a competitive business environment?

Yes, servant leadership can be effective in a competitive business environment as it promotes collaboration, innovation, and employee engagement.

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