Ken Blanchard suggests that when you become a leader, you give up your right to think of yourself first. Servant leadership, the subject of the book, is a behavioural model about always putting others first.
What Is Servant Leadership?
The general perception of a leader is someone who decides what to do, when to do it, where to do it, and how to do it, someone with a visionary or strategic role. Servant leaders retain this leadership aspect but complement it with an implementation, or operational role.
Servant leaders turn the traditional hierarchical pyramid upside down when it comes to implementation. As a result, you, the leader, work for your people. This one change, although it seems minor, makes a major difference. The difference is between who is responsible and who is responsive. When you turn the organizational pyramid upside down, rather than your people being responsive to you, they become responsible: responsible to those at the top of the inverted pyramid, the customer.
Ten Characteristics of Servant Leaders
- Listening. The servant leader seeks to identify the will of a group and helps to clarify that will by listening receptively to what is being said and not said.
2. Empathy. People deserve to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirits. Servant Leaders assume the good intentions of staff, co-workers and colleagues and do not reject them as people, even when they may be forced to refuse to accept certain behaviours or performance.
3. Healing. One of the great strengths of servant leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and one’s relationship to others.
4. Awareness. Awareness helps one in understanding issues involving ethics, power, and values. It lends itself to being able to view most situations from a more integrated, holistic position.
5. Persuasion. The servant leader seeks to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. The servant leader is effective at building consensus within groups.
6. Conceptualization. The ability to look at a problem or an organization from a conceptualizing perspective requires consideration beyond day-to-day realities.
7. Foresight. Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future, deeply rooted within the intuitive mind.
8. Stewardship. Servant leadership assumes a commitment to serving the needs of others: a commitment to the growth of people.
9. Building community. The servant leader seeks to identify some means for building community among those who work within his or her institution.
10. Trust. The practices of servant leadership and trust are inextricably linked. Servant leaders both serve first and trust first.
Servant Leadership and the Parable of the Good Samaritan
How you see people determines how you serve people. And most of us tend toward the extremes: we see people as either a problem to be avoided or a person to be loved. What you see when you look at someone determines how you serve. Many of us say we want to respect others—but we see, feel, and move on. Servant leaders remember that someone with a chip on their shoulder may have scars on their back—so their approach is not judgment but respectful action.