The best leaders are, by their nature, servants of those that follow. This servant mentality comes from the character traits that define the best leaders. To be a leader is not a title or position that is assigned to a person. The role of leader is one granted by followers who deem a person worthy of trust to the degree that they are then willing to follow. The characteristics of a servant leader are the traits that draw people to trust and follow.
The servant leader should not be viewed as wimpy or subservient. The traits that define leadership presence are not in conflict with the traits of serving. The best example of a servant leader might be Jesus Christ who, regardless of his position as Son of God, did not regard himself as better than those who followed him. And his servant attitude did not make him subservient to anyone except his heavenly Father.
The servant attitude of a leader is a result of character traits such as the following:
- The servant leader respects and values people. They think you, not me. The leader would not ask anyone to do what they themselves would be unwilling to do. They value the opinions, thoughts, and emotions of team members.
- The servant leader acts with humility. They are not haughty or proud. They rely on their inner person rather than using position or title. There is a sense of equality and team.
- The servant leader encourages those around them. They have a positive attitude and they believe in their team members. Their confidence is contagious.
- The servant leader seeks the success of those around them. They are committed to help people grow and blossom. They develop leaders in those that they lead.
- The servant leader is authentic. They are comfortable with who they are and are willing to allow others to see both their strengths and weaknesses.
- The servant leader develops a culture of trust. They are consistent in keeping their word and caring for others.
- The servant leader has a long-term view. They are thinking of the benefits to the organization and their people over time. They are willing to invest in others for future results.
- The servant leader values results for others. They are not self-centered or selfish but seek benefits for those around them.
Leadership is influence and influence is based on relationship. The underlying theme in all of these traits is that servant leaders think of others rather themselves and the end result is that their people respect and trust the leader. This respect and trust leads to performance and results.
Are you developing the character of a servant? What other characteristics do you see as valuable in serving those that you lead?