The term “servant leader” applies to executives who lack huge egos. They win allegiance by positioning themselves as supportive allies, not bossy tyrants.
These well-liked leaders prefer to listen, not lecture. They’re more interested in soliciting employees’ ideas and concerns than telling people what to think.
Servant leaders exhibit these 6 traits:
- They welcome dissent among staffers, prodding people to engage in independent thinking and free expression. By valuing everyone’s views and responding to diverse opinions (rather than shutting down debate), these leaders increase their understanding.
- They create a pipeline of aspiring leaders. Instead of assuming they are irreplaceable, servant leaders constantly look for promising underlings to fill their shoes. By training others to lead, they create growth opportunities for high-potential employees.
- They emphasize the whole person by caring about employees’ personal lives as well as their professional performance. Servant leaders will coach subordinates to manage issues outside of work, such as helping them find eldercare resources or improving their wellness.
- They gain compliance through persuasion rather than demand compliance through edict. They ask questions that guide people to draw their own conclusions. For example, they might ask, “What do you think would happen if you tested other theories?”
- They favor a long-term perspective. When making personnel decisions, servant leaders look beyond the short term. They look for ways to help grow and develop tomorrow’s leaders.
- They show humility. Stuffy leaders stay aloof, but servant leaders roll up their sleeves and lend a hand. They don’t hide behind their job titles and stay put in their offices; instead, they interact with people at all levels.
— Adapted from “9 qualities of the servant leader,” Skip Prichard, www.skipprichard.com.
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