The servant leader is one who goes before and shows the way. The servant leader is a servant first and foremost, one who wants to serve above all, more than they want to lead. As a servant first, the servant leader takes the time to identify and understand the needs of the employees.
In an article about his vision for servant leadership, Discipleship Pastor Tim Pepper described this type of leader as one who is duty-bound to the follower. Developing people is fundamental to the servant leader’s character. Helping others helps people, reaching far beyond the pages of business plans for the servant leader, and becomes more of a lifestyle.
We have a small percentage of servant leaders in the corporate arena today. They are usually found in the smaller organizations where the president is really nurturing the employees in their goals and growth process. The servant leader provides insight, strategy, provision and care to the employees.
A true servant leader’s response to difficulty, challenges or problematic situations is to listen first. The ability to learn to listen is a great challenge for people, and an even greater challenge for a leader, who mentally begins to process solutions with little information. The silence of knowledge, awareness, and understanding can become uncomfortable, unwieldy, or oppressive. However, it is at this time that the silence is revealing an enlightening aspect of solutions that only quietness can bring about. Embracing silence brings about a profound awareness of language and imagination.
As the servant leader listens and comprehends, the true revelation comes with understanding the meaning of words, which is brought about from experience. Leaders must learn to be silent before they can hear. The silence enhances the sound of the unspoken words that humans release with passion. The silence encourages intuitive listening that can only be heard by sensitive ears and experience. Personal experience provides the imagery to spoken language that not only enhances understanding, but also brings situations to life.
The servant leader’s level of commitment to employees encourages an increased desire to listen, identify and understand the needs of followers. The servant leader has the ability to interpret far more than what the verbal language is saying by focusing on body language and gestures. This is one of the characteristics that channel the servant leader’s ability to find optimum.
Optimum is the ability to appropriately engage and withdraw oneself from situations. The servant leader is careful to recognize the difference between assisting an employee and enabling an employee. The spirit of serving is best utilized through the ministry of helping others.
Servant leaders are challenged to systematically encourage and develop employees, while limiting the development of codependency or dependency among employees. Optimum allows the servant leader to become sensitive and empathic, while recognizing the need to monitor acceptance among employees.
Questions for servant leaders:
- In what areas have you served your employees?
- When was the last time you provided career advice to an employee?