What traits distinguish servant leaders from other kinds of leaders? What is so special about a servant leader? And, do you have what it takes to be one yourself? Here is a list of proposed servant leader characteristics.
According to Larry C. Spears, the ex President and CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, there are 10 characteristics that servant leaders possess. We have reworded them slightly to make them a little more concise and clear. Others could be added and not all of them may apply to all servant leaders.
- Listening: The ability to listen effectively and the motivation to pay close, undivided attention to what others are saying.
- Empathy: A keen awareness and understanding of the feelings of others along with an ability to feel how the other person is feeling.
- Healing: The ability to heal oneself and others, a willingness to help other people solve their problems.
- Awareness: Awareness of oneself, one's own feelings and what is going on in the world around one, being perceptive and sensitive to subtle changes; observant.
- Persuasion: Using an influencing style that is open, honest and not manipulative; finding solutions that are mutually beneficial, a partnership approach to achieving goals.
- Conceptualization: The ability to see the bigger picture and to see more deeply than others, seeing trends and underlying causes, not just symptoms.
- Foresight: The ability to see the longer term implications of current plans and options, not being constrained by overly short-term priorities or needs.
- Stewardship: Caring for others, both as individuals and as institutions, striving to build a sustainable future.
- Commitment to the growth of people: Motivated to develop people for their own sake, finding joy in seeing people grow and achieve their full potential.
- Building community: Striving to foster collaboration, shared ownership, a sense of belonging, aiming to give everyone a stake in an organization's future.
Where do you want to go from here?
Read about an alternative to servant leadership.
Also see: No Servant Leaders for an in depth look at why serving people shouldn't be considered a way of leading them.
See also The Post-Heroic Manager for a replacement for servant leadership.
For more unconventional thinking on leadership see our sister site LEAD2XL