Defining servant leadership is an easy task as it is has come to be an extremely popular model. To be aware of the servant leadership definition better, read on.

Servant Leadership Definition

Robert Greenleaf first defined and coined the term ‘servant leadership’. In simple words, it means the leader puts others before him, with an aim to achieve results for their organization by keeping in mind the needs of the people. A servant leader is looked upon as an unpretentious agent of his/her company’s resources. S/he achieves authority rather than power wherein the former ensures the well-being of the team around him. An individual with traits like empathy, good listening skills, stewardship and a commitment to growth of others is a true servant leader. Servant leaders must be extremely active while considering any problem; they must be self-aware and caring; they should nurture the professional and spiritual growth of their colleagues by believing in their intrinsic value to the company. It is a completely different domain of leadership where a leader becomes a servant for the well being of his/her reportees. To get to know more about the servant leadership definition, explore the following sections.
What Is Servant Leadership
The History Of Servant Leadership
The general concept of servant leadership is a very ancient one and finds more than just a mention in the writings of Chanakya (or Kautilya). It also finds a fair mention in the passages from the Tao Te Ching, attributed to Lao-Tzu, who is believed to have lived in China sometime between 570 B.C. and 490 B.C. In the well-known essay, ‘The Servant as the Leader’, Greenleaf states that ‘the servant-leader is a servant first’. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first and lead next! This concept is in sharp contrast with the concept of authoritative leadership wherein the leader takes all the decisions, doesn’t shy away from taking credit for others’ work and generally works towards a goal without any consideration whatsoever to individual needs and requirements. While the former concept works on the ideology of servant-first, the latter survives on a leader-first philosophy.
The Seven Pillars Of Servant Leadership
  • A servant leader should be a person of character and should sustain honesty, exhibit modesty and serve a higher purpose.
  • He must put people first. He should be caring, have a genuine desire to serve and always remain mentor-minded.
  • He should be a skilled communicator and be keen to invite opinions by connecting with the juniors or mentees credibly.
  • He should be a compassionate collaborator capable of expressing appreciation, have the art of building teams and also help in conflict negotiation.
  • A servant leader must be a visionary and good at anticipation, displaying creativity and being non-judgmental and disinterested.
  • He must be a thinker and should not run away from complications and should have the courage to face them.
  • He should lead with moral authority and should not shy away from sacrificing his interests for the greater good. 
Steps To Measure Servant Leadership
  • A servant leader always looks forward to getting honest feedback.
  • He tries to appeal to the highest potential of the people so as to make them exploit their capabilities effectively.
  • He identifies the genuine needs of others and tries to meet them.
  • He prepares for the future through progressive planning.
  • He makes it a point to provide superior service to the customers and the people under him. 
Steps To Follow To Become A Servant Leader
  • Make it a point to listen attentively to what is being said. Learn to read between the lines.
  • Make it a point to empower others by providing them with opportunities to lead. This helps in developing self-confidence.
  • Always have a positive attitude as this is contagious and spreads amongst others.
  • Always insist on getting honest feedback as it helps in earning trust.
  • Assure yourself that you need to serve people so that, in the later picture, you can influence them. 
Servant leadership is not a mere term that can be defined in a few words. It is a benevolent journey that every progressive leader must take as it not only serves the people; but it holds the cause for a greater good.

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