This article aims to summarise the ten principles of Servant Leadership as proposed by Robert Greenleaf. Personally I find Greenleaf’s depiction of his concepts and theories a little spiritual so I have tried to present them here in a more straight-forward way. In order to be an effective Servant Leader Greenleaf proposes that you must demonstrate the following ten qualities.
Communication is a two way process and many leaders will be very good at doing the talking and less so at listening. Effective servant leaders are able to listen intently and respectfully to their staff and act on the information they receive.
Servant leaders are able to deeply understand and empathise with others. It is important to recognise and accept people for their uniqueness and understand their point of view.
This does not mean physically healing but rather healing on a more holistic level. This can be achieved through discussion, coaching, mentoring and relationship-orientated leadership styles.
Having a wider awareness of yourself and others is a common trait of effective servant leaders. Understanding strengths, weaknesses and areas for development and support is crucial for maximising performance.
A key difference between servant leadership and other styles of leadership is that servant leaders rely largely on persuasion and cooperation rather than authority and delegation. Servant leaders have an ability to convince others as opposed to coercing them into compliance.
Servant leaders have the ability to look at a problem from a conceptualising perspective, meaning they are able to think beyond the day-to-day realities of their work. While conceptualisation is important servant leaders also have the ability to delicately balance conceptualisation and day-to-day focus.
Foresight is a characteristic which enables servant leaders to understand lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely outcomes of any future decisions.
Greenleaf’s view of all institutions was that all leaders (CEOs, staff, directors, trustees, etc.) should play a significance role in establishing their institution in trust for the greater good of society.
9. Commitment to the Growth of People
Servant leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond that of the work they do. They lead with a deep committed to both the personal and professional growth of each and every individual within their organization. Ensuring staff welfare and well-being is also a big considerations for servant leaders.
10. Building Community
Developing and maintaining an effective community is fundamental to servant leadership. Servant leaders seek to identify ways in which social and task orientated communities can be built amongst those who work within their organisation.