Servant leadership has become a more popular term in the corporate world in the recent years, but it’s a concept that has been around since 2000 years ago.
It does not adopt any form of leadership style, it can come in any form: directive, participative, democratic, but it’s primarily an attitude.
Servant leadership is an attitude to serve those who are under your care. Conventional wisdom says that the followers should serve the leader just like how subjects should serve their king, but servant leadership is exactly the opposite: the king serves the subjects and the leader serves the followers.
Origin of Servant Leadership
Although the attitude of servant leadership has prevailed from the beginning of time: i.e we are not leading for ourselves, we lead for the people under our care.
Servant leadership is often attributed to the Bible in an interaction between Jesus and his disciples.
After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?
You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. (John 13:5-8,12-15, New King James Version)
In Christendom, Jesus is known as the greatest man who has ever lived. Sinless, without blemish and performer of miracles and healing, and ultimately sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world.
In Jewish culture, washing the feet of another man is known to be even humiliating that only the lowliest of slaves would perform. Yet Jesus chose to go down on his knees to wash the disciples’ feet as a symbol of him serving them.
Servant-hood Is Strength
This is not weakness, but strength. You’re a leader and although you have the power to lord it over others, you choose to humble yourself to serve the people under you. Now that takes great humility and strength.
A servant leader looks that the vision and seeks to subject him/herself to the vision. Whatever it takes to achieve that vision, the servant leader will do. Whether it is directive leadership or democratic leadership that is needed to attain it, the servant leader humbles himself/herself to behave accordingly.
In the same vein, the servant leader watches over his team like a father watches over his sons. He sacrifices his well-being for his team; he sacrifices his personal comfort so that his team can be more comfortable.
If you have the attitude of servant-hood, you will gain a lot of respect from your team; because it will become evident to them that you are serving them, not yourself.
Start adopting the attitude of a servant, and you will begin to draw a team of passionate people willing to run all the way for your cause!
Other Theories of Types of Leadership
» Autocratic Leadership
An autocratic leadership style is somewhat like a directive leadership style; but autocratic leaders are generally more task oriented. They expect their task to be done and they do not consider their follower’s feelings in their decision-making.
» Democratic leadership
A democratic leadership style is in the opposite spectrum of the autocratic leadership style. Also known as the participative leadership style, this type of leaders generally seeks a consensus on the direction of a group. They are generally more people oriented and the feelings and thoughts of their followers matter to them.