With the world in desperate need of positive and effective leadership, there has never been a better time to discuss what a servant leader is. Homes, businesses, churches, and schools all benefit from more people who have a servant leader heart and mindset.
What Is a Servant Leader?
According to Robert K. Greenleaf, the founder of The Center for Servant Leadership:
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.”
In other words, servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.
Sounds great right?
How Do We Find Servant Leaders?
We create them. We nurture them. We encourage them. We cultivate them.
Great Lakes Christian College's teaching philosophy is based on enriching the lives of our students so that they become natural servant leaders in the world.
In fact, the highest and most prestigious award that we offer is The Divine Servant Award. This award is given to a Senior student or alumnus whose life has consistently illustrated the sacrificial servant spirit as taught by Jesus Christ
Servant Leaders in the World
Great Lakes Christian College programs and majors are designed, not only to prepare students for service in a church context, but also to provide the transition to careers and occupations outside the church context. All of our on-campus and online courses founded upon and infused with developing servant qualities.
Servant Leadership Is Not Just About Church Work
The term itself sounds religious and the root philosophy is to lead like Jesus did--by example. He was a servant of the people. However, in recent years, secular businesses have started to adopt this same practice because they have seen over and over again, the value of having a servant leadership team.
Servant leadership focuses on results-driven leadership practices as opposed to being a boss or "ruler."
According to Greenleaf: a servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
Servant leaders are more highly regarded than others by their employees. They generally feel better about themselves at the end of the day and tend to be much more productive.
Traits of a Servant Leader
Focus on Others. Servant leaders put their own egos aside and are aware that ultimately it is not about them, but about the people and the organization as a whole.
Motivational. Motivating people with by reasoning which results in people truly listening to you.
Being Truthful. Keeping all team members informed on all decisions. Being transparent is a far better way to build and maintain trust than omitting information.
Ability to Listen. Being able to listen to the needs and wants of others is critical in fostering a positive relationship and atmosphere.
Open mindedness. Servant leaders value diverse opinions and will seek out a wide range of ideas before making a decision.
Cultivating Trust. Trust is crucial in servant leadership. In order to serve employees, a leader must be trusted and cultivate trust in others and their culture.
Encourage Others. Along with trust, encouragement is one of the key elements to servant leadership.
Humility. No one is perfect and no one can be truly successful by acting alone. A servant leader knows he or she needs the help others, asks regularly for it, and can also admit when they are wrong.
Improve Everyone's Well being. A servant leader is interested in helping people on a professional and personal level.
Helping Others Grow and Improve. This is a key element to servant leadership. By helping others grow and develop you help them become better at their jobs while also growing in confidence and developing as people. This ultimately helps the entire organization become more effective and profitable.
Empathy and Compassion. Having and displaying empathy and compassion allows you to relate to others, understand what their needs are, and take action to improve their situation.
Attention. Servant leaders have acute awareness of their organization and the people in it. To best serve those around you, you have to pay attention and understand them. More time is spent focusing on others than yourself.
Learn from Past Experiences. By learning from past experiences servant leaders can discern how current or future situations will play out.
Let Go and Move On. As a servant leader you must learn from the past, but also know how to let it go and not corrupt current or future decision making.
Looking to the Future. The servant leader will always be considering the future of the organization and developing and training the employees of the future, today.
Stewardship. Servant leaders consider themselves to be a steward rather than an owner or director. They have the perspective that they have been entrusted with the responsibility of the organization and to possibly pass it on at some point.
Build Communities. The servant leader builds communities within an organization as a means to engage employees. They are good at delegating, empowering and recognized the gifts and talents in others.
Develop Leadership in Others. Leaders need to surround themselves with other great leaders. By embracing the gifts and talents of others and encouraging them, you will build trust, develop others, and raise your organization to the next level.
Heals and Communicates Effectively. Servant leaders strive to communicate clearly and honestly. They seek to heal damaged relationships and focus on the strength that comes from overcoming adversity.
Become a Servant Leader
Great Lakes Christian College provides a supportive environment that cultivates servant leaders. See the difference we make by calling 1-800-YES-GLCC or scheduling a personal visit.
Better yet, apply today and get started on your future!
This article was originally published in 2018 and has been recently updated.