What is servant leadership and why is it important?

A servant leader feels responsible for helping people to learn and grow, to feel purposeful, motivated, energised and to contribute at their highest level. Servant leadership is about inspiring people to do noble work that enables them to do their best. Servant leadership is important because it creates a nurturing environment in which workers feel that they are the head, appreciated and respected. It can help companies build stronger work cultures with high employee morale and commitment.

Servant leadership is a style based on a desire to serve and give back to your community. By putting the needs of others first, you empower people to do their best. When community members see your passion and commitment through your actions, they want to be connected to you. Servant leadership goes against the belief that leadership is defined as hierarchical, patriarchal and related to wealth or status.

Instead, as the name suggests, it focuses on serving others to help them grow, often without the title or recognition that comes with many leadership roles. Robert Greenleaf, the originator of servant leadership theory, chose the name because it is contradictory and the polar opposite of typical leadership theories. Servant leaders support lower-level employees and teams. They support them to make decisions, have more responsibility, and have the skills and tools they need to do their jobs.

This means they can respond and adapt quickly when conditions or needs change. Sometimes, in the highly emotional and challenging environment of project management, the "we" is overlooked. It is up to the servant leader to ensure that all team members are taken care of. This, in turn, creates a happier, more effective and productive team and, consequently, improved performance.

The goal of servant leadership can be summarised as empowering employees and keeping them happy. This leadership style results in employees with greater commitment to the company and more enthusiasm and energy to keep customers happy. A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of individuals and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership often involves the accumulation and exercise of power by the 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 at their best. Servant leaders use persuasion - rather than their authority - to encourage people to act. Servant leaders are committed to the personal and professional development of all members of their teams. If one wants to build a better, fairer and more loving society that offers greater creative opportunities for its people, the most open path is to raise both the capacity to serve and one's own performance as a servant of existing mainstream institutions through new regenerative forces at work within them.

It should come as no surprise that servant leadership has become one of the most popular leadership styles in the modern workplace. But traditional leadership can also produce non-inclusive teams, as it does not focus on the well-being of the people in them. Organisations have the power to change society, but they must first build capacity, develop people and give servant leadership the climate it needs to thrive. This "serve-first" mentality can be put into practice early on, during an employee's onboarding phase, says Michael Timmes, leadership expert and consultant and trainer at national human resources provider Insperity.

Servant leaders see people as an important resource to invest in and equip them with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to be effective and fulfil their potential. Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enrich people's lives, build better organisations and ultimately create a more just and caring world. Greenleaf, who died in 1990, founded the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership in Atlanta. As a servant leader, you are a servant first: you focus on the needs of others, especially team members, before considering your own.

This is often one of the 10 characteristics of servant leadership that people struggle with the most because it seems a bit vague.

Jason Klingler
Jason Klingler

Passionate beer expert. Professional musicaholic. Incurable communicator. Evil food specialist. Passionate food junkie. Devoted music fan.