What is Servant Leadership?

Servant Leadership at a Glance

Servant leadership is an approach to achieving common goals in which the leader is primarily motivated by a desire to serve others. Servant leadership is distinguishable from other leadership approaches in two principle ways:

  • First, servant-leaders place special emphasis on the well-being of their followers and the development of their full capacities.
  • Second, servant-leaders measure their personal success by the benefits their leadership brings to their followers, their organizations and society as a whole. 

Who Servant-Leader Are - Distinctive Traits of a Servant-Leader

Servant-leaders exhibit all the great leadership virtues of, but these three are distinctive:

  • Humility
  • Generosity
  • Foresight

What Servant-Leaders Do - Distinctive Servant Leadership Behaviors in the Workplace

In the workplace context, servant-leaders:

  • Persuade rather than coerce
  • Build trust & inclusion
  • Empower others
  • Listen & dialogue for understanding
  • Connect followers to a mission
  • Achieve results
  • Develop more leaders

Benefits of Servant Leadership in the Workplace

Evidence shows that organizations practicing servant leadership have superior employee engagement, provide better customer experience and are more innovative than their peers. Servant-leadership gives the workplace greater:

  • Meaning
  • Prosperity
  • Joy

History of Servant Leadership

Servant leadership has its origins in human prehistory. In modern times, Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term “servant leadership” in his influential 1970 essay, The Servant as Leader. Since then, a variety of writers, scholars and practitioners have described servant leadership in a variety of ways.


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