10 Unique Characteristics of a Servant Leader

In 1990, Robert K.  Greenfield redefined the way we think about management. His idea was dubbed “servant-leadership” that flips the traditional model of management, thinking and organizational structure completely upside down. 

The following is a list of 10 qualities that servant-leaders posses: 

1. Listening 

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Servant-leaders have a deep commitment to listening intently to others. Whether it's verbal or non-verbal a servant-leader seeks to identify the will of a group and help clarify that will. 

2. Healing

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One of the greatest strengths of servant-leadership is the potential to heal oneself and other. Many people have broken spirits and have suffered from a variety of emotional hurts. Although this is part of human beings,  servant-leaders recognize that they have an opportunity to “help make whole ” those whom they have come in contact with. 

3. Awareness

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General awareness and especially self- awareness strengthens the servant -leader. Awareness also aids one in understanding issues involving ethics and values. It allows the servant -leader to be able to view most situations from more integrated, holistic position. 

4. Empathy

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A servant-leader strives to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirits. One assumes the good intentions of co-workers and does not reject them as people even if one finds it necessary to refuse to accept their behavior and performance. 

5. Stewardship

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Peter Block has defined stewardship as “holding something in trust of another”. CEOs, staffs and trustees all play a significant role in holding their institutions in trust of another greater good society. Servant -leadership like stewardship, assumes first and foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others. It also emphasizes the use of openness and persuasion rather than control. 

6. Persuasion

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They have the primary reliance on persuasion rather than potential authority in making decisions within an organization. The servant -leader seeks to convince others rather than coerce compliance. 

7. Foresight 

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Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant -leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present and the likely consequence of a decision for the future. It is also deeply rooted within the intuitive mind. 

8. Conceptualization

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Servant -leaders seek to nurture their abilities to “dream great dreams”. The ability to look as a problem or an organization from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must think beyond day -to -day realities.  Servant -leaders are called to seek a delicate balance between conceptual thinking and a day-to-day focused approach. 

9. Commitment to The Growth of People

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Servant -leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond contributions as workers.  As a result, the servant -leader is deeply committed to the growth of each and every individual within the institution. The servant -leader recognizes the tremendous responsibility to do everything possible to nurture the growth of employees. 

10. Building Community 

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The servant-leader senses that much has been lost in recent human history as a result of the shift from local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human lives. This awareness causes the servant -leader to seek to identify some means of building a community among those who work within a given institution. 

Servant -leaders make a community or an institution a better place for everyone to grow.

And as Greenleaf said: “All that is needed to rebuild a community as a viable life form for large number of people is enough servant -leaders to show the way, not by mass movement, but by each servant leader demonstrating his or her own unlimited liability for a quite specific community “
 

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