Servant leadership is a theory that I believe is underrated. Through my interactions with my professor in an Introductory to Leadership class, she identified me as a servant leader, which I found to be not only flattering, but very true! A servant leader displays ten characteristics including “listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community” (PSU WC, 2019, L.11). Who wouldn’t want those characteristics in a leader? There is nothing wrong with serving your followers so they can grow at their own pace in order to achieve company goals, which will ultimately make the leader’s job easier in the end. Leaders are most often placed in higher positions within a company, and I think it is their job to provide encouragement and the necessary supports to their followers.
It is important to listen to followers, so they feel that their opinion matters. Everyone wants to feel validated; however, in the event that there is a misunderstanding, the leader can tactfully clear things up by actively communicating and being approachable. Empathy is also necessary because sometimes followers are faced with difficult workplace or personal situations that could temporarily inhibit performance. Everyone struggles at times and that is where healing comes into play. We are all human and mistakes are bound to happen. Reaching out a helping hand to followers and offering advice can alleviate stress and future problems for both the leader and the followers. At all times, the leader should be aware of how his actions and attitudes affect followers. Through persuasion, the leader can encourage followers to change their attitudes and work habits. Alternative methods like coercion may cause the opposite effect and ultimately offend and/or hurt the feelings of followers.
Conceptualization entails focusing on the “big picture” of an organization so the company can reach its’ long-term goals (Northouse, 2016). The leader should communicate goals clearly and concisely to followers while offering direction, if needed. A servant leader will demonstrate foresight, which is “an ability to predict what is coming based on what is occurring in the present and what has happened in the past” (Northouse, 2016, p.228). Stewardship involves the leader’s accountability in situations. Leaders are entrusted to manage their followers as well as the organization (Northouse, 2016).
A servant leader will recognize that their followers are unique individuals. Not only does a servant leader want a follower to grow professionally, but he will encourage them to grow personally (Northouse, 2016). Commitment to the growth of people includes “providing followers with opportunities for career development, helping them develop new work skills, taking a personal interest in their ideas, and involving them in decision making” (Northouse, 2016, p.228-229). Lastly, the servant leader fosters a sense of community within the organization. A community creates a safe space for followers where they can feel connected with others, but still allows the followers to express their individuality (Northouse, 2016).
In summary, I would like to end this blog post with a quotation from a video in a previous class that discussed ethical leadership in terms of being a servant leader. Michael Wasser who works as a Research and Communications Associate for American Rights at Work summed up servant leadership perfectly by stating, “I’ve heard your story about the servant leadership. You wouldn’t ask others to do something that you wouldn’t be willing to do. I think that it has to be each task is meaningful. And the reason, if we’re in a company, we’re having everyone do a certain job because it gets us to where we need to be. And some people have to be in higher positions. Some people have to be in, to be considered in rank order, lower positions. But the leader finds the value of the work and finds the value of that person, of what they’re doing” (PSU WC, 2019, L.11).
Northouse, P.G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage
Pennsylvania State University (2019). OLEAD 100 Lesson 11: Addressing Ethics in Leadership,
Penn State World Campus, The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved from
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2019). PSYCH 485 Lesson 11: Servant
Leadership. Retrieved from