In our series on leadership attributes, we now look at servanthood, or more commonly known as servant leadership. Entire books have been written about servant leadership. Here are five books that I have read and recommend, and more are being written all the time. For example, in the book Lead Like Jesus Revisited, Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges and Phyllis Hendry tell us that for followers of Jesus, servant leadership is not an option, but a mandate. They tell us that leading like Jesus in an organization creates a new culture that affects all relationships and every result. It requires leaders to be shepherds and servants who value each person as an integral part of the organization.
Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time, and the ultimate servant leader. Christian leaders should all aspire to lead like Jesus. He said that he did not come to be served, but to serve. He was worthy of being worshipped as a King, but yet washed the feet of his disciples, and even knowingly washed the feet of one who would betray Him. Scotty Smith has said that the humility and servant love of Jesus are to inform, shape and fuel ever relationship in which we participate as God’s people. Jesus chose a towel and basin, not a scepter and title, to define leadership. Foot washing, not power taking, is the way of the gospel. In his book Lessons from the Upper Room, Sinclair Ferguson writes that our calling, shared with every Christian, is to see how and where and to whom we can serve as bondservants, and that includes our leadership. Dee Ann Turner, in her book Bet on Talent, tells us that leaders are not called to work; they are not called to fill a position, make money, or use their authority to manage people. Leaders are called to serve.
Leading with servanthood is how I want to lead and also would like to be led. Think of the “Golden Rule”. The first section of Matthew 7:12 states “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them”. If I apply that to how I would like to be led, it would be to be led by a servant leader. That type of leader that is always there to help you win and accomplish your goals. You can relax, do your best, and know that you have a leader who has your best interests in mind.
Blanchard tells us that effective leaders should serve their team members, not be served by them, which is different from what we normally see from our leaders. Similarly, John Maxwell has said that the leader should be there for the people, not the people for the leader. In the book Servant Leadership in Action, Blanchard and Maxwell write that they believe that the only way to create great relationships and results is through servant leadership.
So, given this, what are some of the traits of those who lead with servanthood? Servant leaders:
- Care for those that they lead as individuals
- Demonstrate empathy
- Are humble
- Are trustworthy
- Are good listeners
- Are appreciative
- Demonstrate strong results
- Put the interests of others ahead of themselves
- Encourage others
- Take joy in developing others to their highest level of potential
These are just a few of the many traits of a servant leader. Have you had the pleasure of being led by a leader who demonstrates the trait of servanthood? Are you yourself a servant leader?