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Servant Leadership 10 Principles Cheat Sheet by

principles     leadership     servant


While the concept of servant leadership has been around for ages, it was not until Robert Greenleaf coined the term in 1970 in his paper, The Servant as Leader, that it became popular.

Greenleaf defines it as wanting to serve first in order to ensure that other people's highest priority needs are being served. Servant leaders use less instit­utional power and control while shifting authority to the followers. Secondly, servant leaders have a positive effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, will they not be further deprived? If inequa­lities and social injustices exist, a servant leader tries to remove them (Graham, 1991).

Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices in that it emphasizes serving, while having ten principles (Spears, 2010) that guide the servant leader:

1. Listening

Making a deep commitment to listening intently to others in order to identify and clarify the will of a group. This means one must get in touch with one's inner voice, and seeking to understand what another's body, spirit, and mind are commun­ica­ting.

2. Empathy

Understand others and empathize with them by accepting and recogn­izing their special and unique spirit. The servant leader must assume the good intentions of their coworkers and not reject them, even when forced to reject their behavior or perfor­mance.

3. Healing

Having the potential to heal one's self and others so that transf­orm­ation and integr­ation can take place. In The Servant as Leader, Greenleaf writes, “There is something subtle commun­icated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between the servan­t-l­eader and led is the unders­tanding that the search for wholeness is something that they have.”

4. Awareness

Being mindful of one's surrou­ndings, and especially being self-a­ware, will strengthen the servan­t-l­eader. Fostering awareness can be difficult, as one never knows what may be discov­ered.

Servant Leadership

5. Persuasion

While tradit­ional leaders rely heavily upon their positional authority in making decisions, servant leaders rely on persuasion to convince others in order to build consensus within groups. This principle is noted as one of the clearest distin­ctions between the tradit­ional author­itarian model and that of servant leader­ship.

6. Concep­tua­liz­ation

The ability to look at a problem or the organi­zation from a concep­tua­lizing perspe­ctive so that one goes beyond the day-to-day realities in order to bring visions to reality.

7. Foresight

Using the intuitive mind to understand lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely conseq­uence of a decision in the future in order to solve complex problems.

8. Stewar­dship

Holding the instit­ution in trust for the greater good of society.

9. Commitment to the Growth of People

People have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contri­butions as workers, thus the servant leader is deeply committed to a personal, profes­sional, and spiritual growth of each and every individual within the organi­zation.

10. Building Community

Servant leaders seek to identify a means for building community among those who work within a given instit­ution.

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