Servant leadership theory is a leadership style that puts the needs of an organization on the leader. A servant leader develops employees and avoids directing or domineering. The servant leadership model posits that the epicenter of servant leadership is a leader’s character.
The first character is that the leader must conceptualize the future. Greenleaf (1998) posits that conceptualization is a critical characteristic of a servant leader that helps followers find their purpose. Another behavior is an emotional healer through empathy. Servant leaders realize that they have to make their followers whole emotionally as a service to others. When followers are emotionally fit, they can become servants for others like the organization and community.
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Putting followers first is the fundamental behavior of a servant leader. It involves catering to the followers’ and the organization’s needs before one’s own. The purpose is to help the organization meet its needs and develop the followers to develop in their own rights. When they are developed rather than instructed, they can get work done independently, giving the leader a chance to do other things.
Lastly, being ethical is another behavior of servant followers. It means doing what is correct at the right time and showing the followers to follow the same. Greenleaf adds that being ethical as a servant leader is being honest and courageous to the followers, organization, and community.
In summary, a leader must exhibit some particular characters to qualify as a servant leader. Greenleaf posits some of the characters as conceptualization, emotional healer, empathy, putting others first, and being ethical. Therefore, any servant leader must act within that range.
Greenleaf, R. (1998). The Power of Servant-leadership: Berrett- Koehler Publishers Inc.