Without turning this article into a dissertation; Servant Leadership is simply a leadership strategy (and philosophy) in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. Duh. Right?

Now, I say the word “simply” but trust me, it is anything but simple.

When people truly consider the attributes of a servant leader, a host of questions arise. It is not as simple as saying, “From now on my goal is to serve.” It’s a bit more complicated than that.

I’d like to tell you three things I believe about servant leadership and one thing that I hate.

What I believe about Servant Leadership:

  1. I believe that a servant leadership style can be applied to any business, organization or group.
  2. I believe that every leader has the capacity to become a true servant.
  3. I believe that servant leadership might be the only hope humanity has, to save ourselves from data-driven destruction.

Trust me, I realize that all three of those beliefs instantly bring up a few questions (especially No. 3). And those are questions that I’d like to discuss with all of you, should you be kind enough to read future articles.

But let me get to the real reason for this post—something that’s been bugging me lately.

Here’s one thing I hate about Servant Leadership:

I absolutely hate that Servant Leadership is conflated with a leader being “soft.”

Often, when people hear of Servant Leadership, they instantly think of some utopian setting where every employee or constituent or member of an organization is always super-happy, feels warm and fuzzy at all times and has only respect, admiration and love for their leader.

They seem to believe that the term “Servant Leader” refers only to leaders in a spiritual context, or they think that it’s merely a part of a kumbaya-let’s-hold-hands-unicorns-and-rainbows management style. Or perhaps a strategy developed to create safe spaces for employees that some might call “snowflakes.”

Let’s get this straight:

Being a Servant Leader may be about placing the needs of others before your own but in no way does it imply that a leader must be soft.

  • Servant Leaders are more equipped to make difficult decisions.
  • Servant Leaders have a distinct marketplace advantage when it comes to marketing and sales.
  • Servant Leaders create lasting loyalty with customers, associates and all those over which they exert influence.

Servant Leadership isn’t soft. Servant Leadership is sustainable. Servant Leadership is SMART. Servant Leadership is the ability to be proud of oneself every time you look in the mirror, as you calmly dismantle the competition.

John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more—you are a leader.”

I’ll add this:

When your actions are driven by the desire to have a positive impact on others, you are a servant leader. And it is only then that you have the ability to create meaningful change in the world.

2 Comments

  1. This is a great article. I am very grateful to see it in this magazine. Servant leaders can be both firm and fair. There are times when they need to share difficult things and this can be done by speaking the truth in love. In the future I would love to see more and more employee owned businesses led by servant leaders.

  2. I’m totally inclined to buy into this article. I’m a servant leader in a highly vision not for profit organization and the members have often claimed that I’m a bit strong in my approach. That is very true, the conviction and passion of my tireless, unrelenting efforts make others apply labels to me like over-achiever and showboat. In those rare cases where I respond to those claims I’ve declared “better like that then a softy or push over bending around people like a jelly fish with man of war tentacles waiting to sting you at my will. What you see is what you get and if my dedication and hard work should ever make you uncomfortable then look in the mirror and realize it’s time to get yourself moving.” I will never apologize for my noble and wise efforts on behalf of this organization as my love and admiration for this institution is far more focused on the greater good and serving the majority vastly outweighs any one individuals sentiments of how I perform my duties. So, be soft if you like but believe me when I say respect and admiration comes from your hard work and constant ability to be present when things are at their worst and you’re steadfast and expedient in the eyes of thine enemies to get the job done. Critics will always be amongst us but few are those that truly share your desire and level of care to ignore those talking to get to work.
    Stay the course and #StayBlessed – Deus Vult

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