The Power of Servant Leadership

A Practical Guide to Developing a Servant Leadership Mindset and Approach.

John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, is often cited as an example of a servant leader. Wooden built his coaching style on the principles of empathy, selflessness, and dedication to the needs of his players. His approach to leadership is consistent with the philosophy of servant leadership, which is a leadership approach that puts the needs of others first.

The concept of servant leadership was introduced by Robert K. Greenleaf in his essay, “The Servant as Leader,” which he published in 1970. Greenleaf argued that the most effective leaders are those who serve others first, rather than those who seek power and control over others. He believed that true leadership involves a deep commitment to helping others achieve their goals and become the best versions of themselves.

Greenleaf’s ideas have been further developed by numerous scholars such as Robert C. Liden. Liden and colleagues found support for 7 dimensions of servant leadership.

Dimensions of Servant Leadership:

  • Emotional healing: the ability to help others heal emotionally, both through active listening and through offering support and guidance.

  • Creating value for the community: the commitment to making a positive impact on the community or society as a whole, rather than just focusing on individual goals.

  • Conceptual skills: the ability to think creatively and strategically and to see the big picture, while still focusing on the needs of individuals.

  • Empowering: the ability to empower and inspire others to achieve their full potential.

  • Helping subordinates grow and succeed: the commitment to helping others grow and develop in their careers and personal lives.

  • Putting subordinates first: the ability to prioritize the needs and interests of others over one’s own interests.

  • Behaving ethically: the commitment to behaving with integrity and ethical principles, even when faced with difficult decisions or situations.

These dimensions all reflect the core principles of servant leadership, which are based on humility, empathy, and a deep commitment to serving others.

The benefits of servant leadership in organizations are many. By putting the needs of employees first, servant leaders can create a positive and supportive work environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork. Servant leaders also tend to be more effective at motivating and inspiring their employees, as they are able to build strong relationships based on trust and respect. Additionally, servant leadership can help organizations attract and retain talented employees who value a culture of empathy, fairness, and social responsibility.

Becoming A Servant Leader:

  • Practicing active listening to better understand the needs and concerns of employees.

  • Encouraging employee feedback and involvement in decision-making processes.

  • Providing opportunities for employee growth and development.

  • Modeling the behaviors and values that you want to see in your employees.

  • Encouraging a culture of empathy and support in the workplace.

Servant leadership is a powerful approach to leadership that can have a transformative impact on organizations and society as a whole. Becoming a servant leader requires a deep commitment to the needs of others, a willingness to lead by example, and a long-term focus on building sustainable relationships. By practicing empathy, focusing on the needs of others, and fostering a culture of collaboration, leaders can transform their leadership style and become effective servant leaders. From

By putting the needs of others first, servant leaders can build strong, supportive relationships and create a culture of collaboration and mutual respect. The legacy of John Wooden, and many other servant leaders throughout history, demonstrates the power and effectiveness of this leadership approach.


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