Who is a good example of a servant leader?

While traditional leadership focuses on helping an organisation to thrive, servant leaders put the needs of their employees first. They focus on developing individuals to be their best.

Examples of

servant leaders are Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. At its core, becoming a servant leader involves moving from being self-serving to serving others.

Ken Blanchard, one of the champions of servant leadership, once said: "Human ego drives people away from their intention to serve". However, it is not always just ego that can get in the way of becoming a servant leader. FedEx was founded in 1971 by Fred Smith, who still leads the company as CEO. He believes that "when you put people first, they will provide the best possible service, and profits will follow".

What emerged from this thinking is a distinctive company culture. The "People - Service - Profit" philosophy has helped the company grow rapidly and remain competitive. For example, when a team member does not complete a task, the service leader lends a hand and leads as an equal team member, rather than just supervising. They set an example for others to participate equally and support the team in times of need.

The 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, is a great example of a true servant leader. The Civil War provided the platform for Lincoln to demonstrate his characteristics of servant leadership, Lincoln brought about radical and transformative change in America (courage), positioning the United States as the prime example of a democracy that works. By freeing the slaves, Lincoln extended opportunity and freedom to all Americans (interpersonal acceptance, empowerment). Lincoln's ultimate goal was to give the people he served what they needed (empowerment).

The 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, is a great example of one of the greatest and most famous servant leaders. The Civil War served as a platform for Lincoln to demonstrate his characteristics of servant leadership. Lincoln brought about radical and transformative change in America (courage), positioning the US as the leading example of a working democracy. While it does not mean that all servant leaders have to die while performing their leadership activities, they do tend to make some sacrifices for the benefit of those they want to serve.

Therefore, servant leaders make it a priority to show team members that they care about them personally and try to help them in their personal affairs when they can. As you can see, servant leadership is about serving others and supporting them when they need it. As they develop skills in areas relevant to their ministries and congregations, participants in ASEC's Sister Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program build their capacity to act as servant leaders and role models. The key is that every model, including servant leadership, has pros and cons that must be considered before implementation.

Servant leaders are described as those who can lead with a primary focus, putting the needs of others before their own. It is also important to measure and demonstrate the power of servant leadership to customers and stakeholders. Starbucks may not be an obvious choice of servant leadership organisation, but the culture of inclusion and social responsibility is deeply rooted in servant leadership. Becoming a successful servant leader often requires breaking "bad habits and developing new, healthy ones".

This means that everyone in your organisation - leaders, managers and employees - must believe in the power of servant leadership as a path to business success. The concept of servant leadership provided the theoretical basis for ASEC's largest and longest running programme, the Sister Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI). For servant leadership, being empathetic means understanding the emotions of others without judging or criticising them. Teaching the principles of servant leadership and getting leaders to really believe and practice those teachings is not just a matter of conducting a couple of training sessions or having them read a book.

Companies that follow a servant leadership philosophy tend to have stronger work cultures, with high employee morale and engagement. When acting as a servant leader, you also have to consider the effect of what you do on the less privileged in society. So what exactly is servant leadership and how do we measure these outcomes in the evaluation of our programmes?.

Jason Klingler
Jason Klingler

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