Servant leadership, as described by Robert K. Greenleaf , begins with a desire to serve others first, which then inspire one to lead.
The desire to serve others is a fundamental characteristic of a servant leader. It is about wanting to help others, identifying and meeting the needs of customers, communities and colleagues. Servant-first leaders make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being taken care of while leader-first leaders are more concern with the material achievement of leading a group of people, such as promotion. Spears(2002) identified 10 characteristics in Greenleaf’s writing, such as listening. empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people and building community. Servant leaders communicate with their followers by listening first. By paying complete attention to what others are saying, leaders are able to understand completely all the situations that they are dealing with. Servant leaders do not impose their own will on others, they recognize the viewpoint of followers and approve these interpretations.
A servant leader has the ability to recognize and understand the emotions experiences by its followers. Such a leader will care for people and will experience emotions that are similar to what others are feeling. Since they understand others so deeply, their actions are motivated by a genuine desire to help others. Servant leaders help their followers to overcome personal problems. Healing involves being sensitive to others personal concern and well-being. Simply being available to others, stand by them and provide them with support leaders inspire an exceptional level of trust and faith from others.
Many people in positions of power are totally ignorant of their weaknesses but not servant leaders. They are completely aware of their strength, shortcomings, values, emotions and the impact one has on others. This self-awareness allows the servant leader to understand personal biases and set them aside while making decisions.It is easy for a servant leader to influence the opinions and actions of others through persuasive skills. Persuasion is clear and persistent communication that convinces others to change. This quality comes in handy in negotiation with business, partners, customers, and stakeholders.
Since servant leaders are committed to the welfare of others, they use this ability only to influence others positively. An important quality of a servant leader is their ability to conceptualise the possibilities of future and reconcile it with current realities providing a clear sense of its goals and direction. This ability equips leaders equips leaders to respond to complex organizational problems. Everything is connected, the past, the present and the future. Servant leaders have the intuitive ability to predict what is likely to happen in the future, based on the past and the present events. Greenleaf believes that leaders should be held accountable for failure to anticipates what could reasonably be foreseen and to act on that understanding.A servant leader takes it upon themselves to develop others. They are committed to help employees chart out a clear path and provide them with resources to progress from one level to the next.
This commitment can take many forms, including providing followers with opportunities for career development, helping them develop new work skills, taking a personal interest in their ideas, and involving them in decision making. (Nothhouse,2018,p 230) Servant leader create a value for the community by consciously and intentionally giving back to the community. People common together for a common purpose and are able to create a feeling of belonging to something bigger than each individual, and foster team spirit and common sense of community. Servant leaders also deeply care for this community that they create as they link the purpose and goals of an organisation with the broader purposes of the community.