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Servant Leadership: What is it?

"You are not who you think you are, you are who others perceive you as" - Unknown

Leadership is one of my favorite topics, but more specifically servant leadership. I have written a little about it in the past but we are going to break down some of the characteristics of a good servant leader. If you have never heard it called that you will be surprised at what all it entails. It may not be what you think. We all know (I hope) that a good leader needs to be a good example, however, I know of many leaders both personally and by reputation that began with great intentions but the power of that control turned damaging. That behavior is the exact opposite of true servant leadership and is sad really because it creates so much bitterness and resentment in those being led making it difficult for the good leaders to really gain the trust of those they lead.


Let's talk a little about what servant leadership is not. It is not a do as I say mentality, that is called a dictatorship. As easy as it sometimes makes things by not having to think about what needs to be done, but in the same token you can't deviate from how or what is done. If you are anything like me that methodology will not work, I am a creative, I need to be able to do things my own way in order to be the most productive. Servant leadership is not do what you want style either, there is no structure in that and teams can easily lose track of who the actual leader is, this is not the most productive method. There are many other styles of leadership that come close but in my opinion nothing really compares to true servant leadership.


What is it then, if it is not telling others what to do or how to do something? A servant leader is someone who embodies a "givers" mentality, and what I mean by that is someone who gives freely without expecting any credit or praise, they do it because it the right thing to do. They are someone who puts the needs of the group above their own and wants to see those they lead go farther than they did. A great book about servant leadership that I would recommend is "Servant Leadership" by Robert Greenleaf. You will truly learn a lot from the man that coined the term, keeping in mind that the concept has been around forever. The wisdom in that book is amazing, really!


The characteristics of a servant leader are wide spread, there are not simply one or two things to look at. Over the next couple weeks we will look at 11 different characteristics of a servant leader, and if you search the internet I'm sure you will find even more. The principals are highly effective in your home life (obviously) to church and even very practical in the business world. In fact I am a strong believer that if you take on these characteristics and practices in your current place of employment you will not only stand out but will move up the ladder quicker. It is not just about being really nice and working hard, it is about setting an example, listening, having patience an a whole slew of other things we will talk about in more detail in the coming weeks. My goal today is to familiarize you with the term and concepts that will help you improve your outlook as well as how others see you.


Leadership is not the easiest of jobs and servant leadership is not necessarily easier but it makes your life a bit more joyful. I am here to answer your questions, encourage you and give you all the help I can in order to help you become the successful leader you want to be. Next week we will start talking about the actual characteristics of servant leadership and how to put them into practice. Be sure to listen to the accompanying podcast and subscribe so you know when we release a new episodes. You can listen on Anchor, Google Podcasts, Spotify, RadioPublic and Breaker.



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Chester, Virginia

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