Conversations by some of our leaders on how they ought to be treated and remunerated beg a big question on why they want to lead, in the first place.
Leadership is self-sacrifice driven. It thrives on the desire to achieve something for the greater good of society. That is why we have often heard of servant leadership.
Larry Spears, CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, has identified 12 characteristics of servant-leadership that should be the hallmark of true leadership.
You provide effective leadership if you seek to listen receptively to what is being done and said.
Listening also encompasses getting in touch with your inner voice and seeking to understand what is being communicated.
Servant-leaders strive to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognised for their special and unique spirit. You must assume the good intentions of those whom you lead.
You should never reject suggestions just because they come from such and such a person. Even when you are forced to reject or call into question the behaviour or performance of some individual, that alone should never be ground for rejecting their suggestions.
Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant-leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and others.
General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the servant-leader. Such leaders have a strong sense of what is going on around them. They are always looking for cues from their opinions and decisions. They know what’s going on and will rarely be misled.
Servant-leaders rely on persuasion, rather than positional authority in making decisions. They seek to convince others, rather than to coerce compliance.
This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian style and that of servant-leadership.
The servant-leader is effective at building consensus within groups.
Servant leaders seek to nurture their abilities to dream great dreams. They have the ability to look at the organisation, and any issues within the organisation, from a conceptualising perspective. This means the leader must think beyond day-to-day realities.
Servant-leaders must seek a delicate balance between conceptualisation and day-to-day focus.
She cultivates foresight as a characteristic that enables her to understand lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequences of a decision in the future. This attribute is deeply rooted in the intuitive mind.
Servant leaders have a strong sense of stewardship. A steward in an organisation is responsible for preparing it for its destiny, usually for the betterment of society. They have a desire to prepare the organisation to contribute to the greater good of society.
Servant leaders have a strong commitment to the growth of people. They believe that all employees have something to offer beyond their tangible contributions. They work hard to help employees develop in a number of ways.
They need to connect to others’ developmental needs and actively find ways to help them reach their true potential as employees.
They have a strong sense of community spirit and work hard to foster it in an organisation.
They believe the organisation needs to function as a community and work hard to build the community within.
They are willing to sacrifice self-interest for the good of the organisation. They have a natural desire to serve others and to make a difference for others within the organisation.
These leaders understand the deep human need in others to contribute to personally meaningful enterprises.
They nurture the individual’s spirit through honest praise and supportive recognition. Criticisms and suggestions are not personal or harsh. The joy of the work is celebrated through means that acknowledge the value of employees’ commitment to worthwhile activities. The servant leader reminds employees to reflect on the importance of both the struggles and successes in the organisation and to learn from both.
One reader texted me the other day to ask whether I practice what I write.
I strive to attain those standards. I seek to be a servant leader. It is not that I am perfect, or will ever be perfect. But I have a roadmap and the will to get there.
Originally posted 2015-06-01 17:06:59.