How to Practice Servant Leadership

by braniac; Updated September 26, 2017

Some leaders lead from a domineering, and often arrogant "top down" framework because it is traditional, is the most common, is the easiest, and comes naturally. However, this may not be the most effective form of leadership in order to produce the best work environment for everyone. It may also not be the most efficient for making an organization more efficient and furthering the organization's mission, vision, and core values. A different type of leadership that may be better effective at doing these things is servant leadership. Servant leadership opposes top-down, autocratic leadership. A servant leader acts as a steward to the organization's financial, human, and other resources. Servant Leadership emphasizes trust, empathy, collaboration, and the ethical use of power. At the heart of servant leadership, the individual leader of an organization is a servant first. He or she makes a conscious decision to lead in order to better serve others, not to increase his or her own power. The servant leader's objective is to enhance the growth of individuals in the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement.

Step 1

Becoming a servant leader should first involve you making the choice of service over self-interest. True leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others.

Step 2

You must understand that servant leadership is a transformational, long-term approach to work and life - a way of being that has the potential for creating positive change throughout our society.

Step 3

Become familiar with the principles of servant leadership and try to incorporate them into your leadership style as you grow as a leader: transformation as a vehicle for personal and institutional growth; personal growth as a route to better serve others; enabling environments that empower and encourage service; service as a fundamental goal; trusting relationships as a basic platform for collaboration and service; creating commitment as a way to collaborative activity; community building as a way to create environments in which people can trust each other and work together; nurturing the spirit as a way to provide joy and fulfillment in meaningful work.

Step 4

Try to emulate and incorporate the following characteristics that are pivotal to servant leadership, merging them into your own leadership style: empathy, listening, awareness, healing, persuasion, foresight, stewardship, conceptualization, community building, and commitment to the growth of people.

Step 5

Understand that the ideals of servant leadership can be implemented both at an individual level as a means for personal growth (such as for professional, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth), and at the organizational level as a means for a more effective mission, vision, core values, and guiding philosophy, creating better, more productive and profitable, and more caring companies and institutions.


  • A servant leader should do the following in an organizational setting: focus on meeting the needs of those they lead; devote themselves to serving the needs of the organization's members; coach employees and encourage their self expression; work with and develop employees and organizational members to bring out the best in them; listen to what employees and organizational members have to say in an effort to build a sense of community; and facilitate personal growth in all organizational members. By doing these things, servant leaders and those practicing the tenets of servant leadership are effective by facilitating and encouraging employees and members of the organization to reach their fullest and best potential, allowing them to perform at their highest level, which ultimately is better for the organization as a whole and the organization's interactions with other people and organizations.