Since Robert K. Greenleaf in “The Servant as Leader” coined “servant leadership”, an essay first published in 1970, it is generally accepted that being a servant first is the foundation of servant leadership. But what does this mean and can it possibly move your organization from good to great?
At JJR Marketing, we like to keep our definition simple: Servant leadership is the act of serving others with pure intentions. Look out for other people and don’t expect anything in return. Take time to embrace each other’s dreams and help them realize them. We use this principal daily.
Although our definition is simple, becoming a servant leader is not so simple. It takes time to develop the attributes necessary to be a true servant leader. So what characteristics do we see servant leaders possessing?
Vision – to see beyond what most people may see. Servant leaders see potential in everyone, working to elevate each individual. The result? An even stronger organization with greater capabilities. If the weakest link in an organization is inspired to reach at greater goals, think of the possibilities.
Commitment – to work on important tasks, though they aren’t necessarily urgent. Chewing through each day putting out fires may seem as though you’re making progress. But are you? Instead, if you learn what rocks your employee’s world, and embrace it, perhaps you’ll help your organization reach new heights – and quicker. Commit the time and the effort to help others realize their dreams, and then all can reap the benefits.
Humility – to remember that lauding accomplishments as “yours” will get you nowhere. Instead, sharing praises renews your commitment to others. It keeps everyone in the organization looking forward. Success, power and influence should not be used as a tool to diminish or to be condescending. Instead, remind yourself that you are blessed and don’t lose touch with reality.
Compassion – to feel the pain of someone else and “stand in their shoes” before you speak or act. People will forget what you say, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.
Wisdom – to apply beneficial lessons learned through another’s perspective. Lead your team to success through wisdom.
Just because you believe in good will and can identify these critical characteristics within yourself, it doesn’t make you a servant leader. You need to act on what you believe. And, don’t expect results overnight.
As committed subscribers of the servant leadership approach, we activate people through inspiration and motivation – and suggest you do the same. Inspiration is a powerful tool that a servant leader can use to ignite the passion in others. Exude the positive energy that people can see and capture.
As you begin – or continue – your quest to become a servant leader, we leave you with a couple of quotations by famous people who’ve not only embraced the concept, but lived it.
“The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.” – Mother Teresa
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Also, of those in the business world…
“It has generally been my experience that the very top people of truly great organizations are servant-leaders.” – Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
“Servant leadership is key to surviving and thriving in the 21st century.” – Ken Blanchard, author of “The One Minute Manager.”