Have you ever wondered how some leaders just have this amazing ability to conquer a room and win the unanimous participation of their team?

At first glance, it is easy to attribute their success to their charismatic personality or their incredible ability to formulate a clear and concise vision. But if you take a closer look, you will find that the only thing that sets them apart from others is their leadership as servants.

These leaders have a deep understanding of what it means to serve their team and use this knowledge to build a community that is committed to greatness, inclusion and respect. What makes them great is their willingness to put the needs of their team above their own.

Now you may think that servant leadership is simple, but it is actually quite complicated. And that’s a lot more than being a good person.

What exactly is servant leadership?

Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that are based on the belief that the most effective way to lead is to serve others. This means taking the time to learn and understand the needs of all your team members – and that takes time and intention.

This is a difficult job. But if you are willing to make an effort, it can have a profound effect on the morale, performance and overall success of your team.

To help you begin your journey to becoming a servant leader, here are nine servant leadership characteristics that all great leaders possess.

1. They are self-conscious

Servant leaders know who they are – their strengths and weaknesses and how their actions affect the people around them. When leaders take the time to understand themselves and look at their own behavior, they can spot their blind spots and turn around when needed.

Self-awareness is a gift, but it is not something that comes naturally to everyone. It is not easy to look in the mirror and purposefully look for your strengths and weaknesses. But this is an important part of servant leadership.

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One of the best tools to help you become more self-aware is the Meyers-Briggs (MBTI) indicator. This personality test will help you understand how you see the world and make decisions and will show you how your personality is an obstacle and help in your leadership role.

2. They are good communicators

Servant leaders know the importance of communication. They understand that it is not just about giving orders or broadcasting information. It’s also about listening.

Therefore, if you want to build a strong relationship with your team, you need to take the time to listen and learn about their needs and goals. Communication is a conversation, which means that people need to feel heard before they are ready to listen to your ideas.

If you are ready to register with your team every day or even weekly and purposefully engage, you will find that your company is becoming a strong community. And one of the first steps towards building a solid community is communication.

3. They are modest

Servant leaders are humble. They understand that putting others first is at the heart of their company’s success. That’s why some of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies believe there is an open door policy.

The open door policy shows your team that you are available and that you value their contribution. It’s also a way to build trust – something essential to any strong relationship.

While open door policy is one way to show your team that you are modest, this is not the only way.

You can also model humility by being vulnerable and creating an environment in which it is good to make mistakes. After all, when your team sees that you are failing, they are more likely to take risks and innovate.

4. They are visionaries

Servant leaders are always looking to the future. They see the potential in their team and their company and always try to find ways to help their team members grow and develop.

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Like modesty, these leaders allow themselves and their team to grow. And they understand that growth can only happen when people feel they have permission to progress without the burden of perfection.

One of the best ways to encourage growth thinking in your team is to give them opportunities to stretch. This can be done through cross-learning or leaving them to lead a project on their own.

People need space to dream of “what if” and “what could be”.

So if you want your company to thrive, try to give them control and let them research – even if they make a few mistakes along the way.

5. They value feedback

Servant leaders accept the feedback. They do not writhe and do not avoid confrontation. If nothing else, they crave divergence. This is because they know that feedback, whether positive or negative, is essential for growth.

Honestly, it’s not easy to always hear what people think of you and your management. But it is important to remember that hearing your team’s thoughts and ideas is a gift. This is a tool that gives you the opportunity to improve and build your leadership skills.

One of the best ways to get started with feedback is to simply ask your team to share some ideas with you. You can create an anonymous form on Google, set up a suggestion box somewhere in the office, or even send your Calendly link and encourage people to book one-on-one time with you.

There are many ways to gather feedback, but the most important part is to take the time to listen and then act on what you hear. After all, it’s not just about being a good listener.

Your team wants to feel heard and that means implementing their suggestions.

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6. They lead by example

Servant leaders set the example. They lead the conversations and do not want their team to do something they would not want to do.

Remember: the best leaders are not perfect – they are just authentic.

If you want your team to respect you, be transparent and honest with them and show them what it looks like to get to the top of the mountain, even when the journey is difficult.

This does not mean that you have to share all your personal data with your team or be an open book at all times. But that means being authentic and vulnerable when appropriate. This will help build trust and respect between you and your team.

7. They do not micro-manage

Servant leaders are great at delegating. They know they can’t do everything themselves and are not afraid to ask for help.

When faced with a problem that is not in their wheelhouse, they quickly delegate it to someone on their team who is better prepared to deal with it. That is why the leadership of the servants is not to be praised. If nothing else, this is to give your team a chance to shine.

So if you’re a leader who’s used to micromanagement, it’s time to give up and give your team a chance to step up and show you what it’s made of. Not only will they appreciate the freedom to try new things and invent things independently, but they will also bring that confidence to the office when they start the next project.

8. They are always learning

Servant leaders do not have all the answers. And in many ways, they don’t even try.

Great leaders understand that it’s not about knowing everything. It’s about curiosity and a desire to learn.

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One of the best ways to foster a love of learning on your team is to create an environment in which it is encouraged. This can be done by submitting articles, books or podcasts that you think might be of interest to you.

Another idea is to give everyone an annual membership in Coursera, LinkedIn Learning or Skillshare.

When you prioritize learning, your team will feel comfortable asking more questions and facing the workday with a learning attitude.

However, the culture of learning must start with you. Once your employees see that you are investing in your education, they are more likely to follow your example.

9. They focus on the long game.

Servant leaders are focused on the long game. They know that greatness does not happen overnight and that success is a marathon, not a sprint.

This means that they are always looking for ways to improve their team’s skill set and help them grow in their careers. Whether it’s investing in their education, sending them to conferences or connecting with a mentor, they always think about how they can help their team reach its full potential.

Employee leaders understand that when their team succeeds, the company succeeds.

Last thoughts

Leadership of servants is much more than giving orders and being a boss. It’s about putting your team first, listening to their needs and helping them grow.

By embodying these nine leadership characteristics of servants, you can become a better leader for your team and help your business reach new heights.

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Presented photo credit: Mapbox via unsplash.com


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