Servant leadership: Cutting through the hype

According to Wikipedia, servant leaders demonstrate the following qualities: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, growth and building community.  These are not qualities one can profess.  They have to be cultivated from deep within and their presence or lack thereof is clearly evident to others.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins calls this Level 5 Leadership.  He describes the level 5 leader as one who is able to “subjugate their egoistic needs to the greater ambition of building something larger and more lasting than themselves.”  Charismatic leaders are able to produce extraordinary results – but the level 5 leader produces extraordinary results that are sustainable beyond his/her direct involvement.  A level 5 leader builds greatness into the organization that continues after the leader’s departure.  For a level 5 leader the achievement is not about them – it’s about maximizing the performance of the organization.

Another indication of higher-functioning leaders is that their behaviors do not change in response to varying levels of maturity or performance in the people around them.  They cultivate meaningful relationships with everyone – including those they may have identified as not being in the right seat.

Self awareness is the first necessity for those with level 5 or servant leadership in mind.  Here are some assessments I found online.

A recent Right Management survey shows that there is a lot of unrest among the worker community and that an improving economy may herald unprecedented turnover in our organizations.  Hopefully we are all seeking ways to connect with our teams to make their worklife a great experience.  Promoting servant leadership is one way to truly engage employees, increase productivity, and make the workday more rewarding for all.

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4 Replies to “Servant leadership: Cutting through the hype”

      1. Hi Lorrie, I’m so glad you found this helpful. I can’t thank you enough for letting me know that one of the links was broken. Apparently, the 3rd assessment is no longer online. No worries, I found another — this one is from Mind Tools. I’ve used a few of their products and have enjoyed them.


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