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Servant Leadership

— Amrita Priya


In their book ‘The Servant Leader: Transforming your heart, head, hands and habits’, authors Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges had reflected -“What is leadership? – It’s an influence process – any time you are trying to influence the thinking, behaviour or development of another human being, you are engaging in leadership. Given that definition, you can see that Jesus is our model for leadership wherever we go – not just at work.” Thus being in touch with fellow human beings has very little to do with balance sheets. It is the spirit of the system that is important. If one is able to practice successfully the ‘I win – you win’ relationship built on a spirit of sacrifice; one can set out to conquer the world. History is replete with examples of men who did just that. Ultimately good human relations and good team work are critical factors in achieving harmonious results in any leadership role that one undertakes.

A Servant Leader will understand that good interpersonal relationship extends beyond good manners and greetings. It encompasses respect for the individuals and value for the work environment. It is based more on giving than taking. It may be said that Jesus has showed us the path of servant leadership. Insisting on this point Blanchard & Hodges argued that “In His instructions to His first disciples on how they were to lead, Jesus sent a clear message to all those who would follow Him; that leadership was to be the first and foremost act of service.” Those who have a feeling of service interspersed with the ability of foresight would automatically become a good leader.


Working in a cohesive team is not just a vehicle to reach the destination; rather an important way of transformation that would make lives more peaceful and serene. If this thought process is instilled in the minds of members of a team, then the invisible groups in which the teams are divided would get united. The capacity of any team to realize its vision and accomplish its goal can be increased through servant leadership as this concept stresses on the fact of encompassing respect for the individual and value for the team environment. It is based more on giving than taking and involves a spirit of sacrifice. It is this aspect which has been stressed by saints and sages, human resource development and management experts alike. The more we develop the spirit of giving, the more bountifully we are rewarded.

Some of the effective tools for building good human relations include frequent meetings amongst the team members, quality circles, brain storming sessions etc. in which emphasis should be laid down on the following techniques of team-building:

Listening

Listening signifies not just hearing but understanding what one wants to say through both spoken words as well as non-verbal communication. Everyone wants a good listener and a leader needs to be one to garner confidence in one’s team members.

Empathy

A leader should try to promote appreciation and respect amongst the team members so that there is personal development of individuals.

Awareness

A leader should be fully aware of the nature of conflict situation without having any biased feeling towards any one party involved in the conflict. He should incorporate a holistic viewpoint and develop a better understanding of values and ethics.

Healing

A team is considered weak if there is animosity within it. Hence a leader should try to put interpersonal conflicts away and create an environment where the atmosphere is free from fear of being ridiculed or criticized for poor performance or inability.

Persuasion

As the moderator of all face-to-face interactions, the leader should not dump any idea on team members; rather try to apply the art of persuasion. People react positively to an idea if they are convinced, rather than being forced.

Conceptualization

A leader should develop the ability to see things from beyond the evident realities.

Foresight

A leader should build an understanding of the outcome of the happenings within the team and accordingly frame a future course of action.

Stewardship

Instead of promoting control, he should try to practice openness while interacting with others.

Commitment to the growth of the people

Through his behavior and actions, he should make evident that he is committed to the growth of the people. He should promote the idea of taking certain measures at the organizational level so that there is scope of personal, professional and spiritual growth of all.

Building community

He should create a feeling of oneness within the organization. This implies, keeping conflicts away and building team cohesiveness during the time of initiating or moderating all types of communication.

Sometimes people might dissuade a leader practicing this leadership style by saying that it is useless sacrifice but in the real sense, by sacrificing, he would be raising his own moral standards. Implementation of servant leadership would be hard just like one tries to reach to a mountain peak. However, if one is successful in reaching there, there can be nothing as ecstatic as being there. Also, one would rise above all the levels of life. There would be no competition to reach higher.

In the present times of moral bankruptcy, the main obstacle is the mindset of some of the team members who will misinterpret a selfless deed as a non-striving action. Apart from misinterpreting selfless deeds, everyone has got accustomed to arguments and criticism. However, the only way to overcome these obstacles or challenges is to maintain a positive bent of mind and with patience try to transform the mindset of the people through good conduct as well as through thought-provoking words. Initially people will find it hard to believe that one is actually practicing what one is preaching but then gradually would start following the path. To overcome the obstacles of servant leadership, one should also try to initiate more scope of meaningful interactions amongst coworkers. Writing and placing slogans emphasizing on the virtues of listening, empathy, healing, and commitment to the growth of people are the areas that are most likely to catch attention of team members and might help in fighting the obstacle of mindset. Gradually the number of supporters of this humble leadership style is bound to increase as people would understand that leading a team through servant leadership is effective, productive and humane.

About the Author
Amrita works as a Senior Writer for a US based academic portal. She holds a post graduate degree in Mass Communication and has deep interest in Psychology and Management.

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