SERVANT-LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS IN ORGANIZATIONAL LIFE
by Don DeGraaf, Colin Tilley and Larry Neal. The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership, "Voices of Servant-Leadership Series," Monograph Booklet 6, 2001



INTRODUCTION (p1-2)

    The metaphor of "The Servant-Leader" is a powerful model for today's managers and leaders. Both customers and staff want leaders who will listen and empower --- rather than dominate and tell them what to do!

    The power of the servant-leadership model lies in the ability of its ideas to inspire us to collectively be more than the sum of our individual parts! The main assumption is that true leadership should call us to serve a higher purpose, something beyond ourselves.

      [1] One of the most important aspects of leadership is helping organizations and staff identify their higher purpose.

      [2] The best test of the Servant-Leadership philosophy is whether or not customers and staff grow as persons!

        (1) Do customers become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become "servants"?

        (2) And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit? Or, at least, not be further deprived?

      [3] To achieve this higher purpose of public organizations, you, as a leader, must be passionate about your desire to improve your community and yourself!

        (1) The process of becoming a "Servant-Leader" demands that you understand your own strengths and weaknesses!

        (2) Ten characteristics of "Servant-Leaders" have been identified --- Listening, Empathy, Healing, Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the growth of people, and Building community. Each of these ten characteristics can be applied to management and customer service!

        (3) Essential Assumption: the ten characteristics of Servant-Leadership do not create an "either/or" dichotomy, but rather an opportunity to explore how to balance all the characteristics in our own lives!

    1) LISTENING --- the foundation of Servant-Leadership (3-5)

      [1] The right attitude to have If you want to send the message that you are genuinely interested in others and want to hear their views --- "I am here to understand your situation by listening to you. Make me understand!"

    2) EMPATHY (p5)

      [1] Personal expectations ---

        1) How do I expect to "stretch myself" in my job?

        2) What can I give to our programs?

        3) What types of relationships am I hoping to develop?

      [2] Professional expectations ---

        1) What professional goals do I want to accomplish?

        2) What do I expect to learn?

        3) What do I expect this job to do for me professionally?

      [3] Collegial expectations ---

        1) How do I want others to treat me?

        2) What do I need from my colleagues to be successful?

        3) What is important to build a sense of community with colleagues?

      [4] Supervisory expectations ---

        (1) What kind of guidance or autonomy do I expect?

        (2) What do I need from my supervisor to be successful?

        (3) What role do I expect my supervisor to play with the program?

      [5] Resource expectations ---

        (1) What kind of resource support am I expecting from the organization?

        (2) What do I expect to be available to me at any time?

        (3) How do I expect my resource requests to be handled?

      Through the process of responding to these types of questions, supervisors and staff begin to develop a common ground for dealing with one another that makes it easier to handle difficult situations as they surface.

    3) HEALING --- Addressing the "spiritual side" of leadership (p7-9)

    4) AWARENESS --- Keeping "in touch" with ourselves and others (p9-11)

    5) PERSUASION --- Beginning with the end in mind (p11-13)

    6) CONCEPTUALIZATION --- Seeing the "big picture" (p13-15)

    7) FORESIGHT --- Plotting the course (p15-18)

    8) STEWARDSHIP --- Being accountable and sharing control (p18-20)

    9) COMMITMENT TO THE GROWTH OF PEOPLE (p20-23)

    10) BUILDING COMMUNITY (p23-25)

SUMMARY --- Putting the pieces together (p26-28)

    This monograph has explored the core characteristics of the concept of Servant-Leadership. The concept provides a framework that leaders can draw upon to create work environments which can empower staff to be more responsive to their customers and the communities in which they live and work.

    It is essential to see the ten characteristics of the Servant-Leadership concept in relationship to one another rather than as individual entities. Instead of imagining a ladder or cyclical process, it is more appropriate to view the ten characteristics as a weaving together --- with each strand supportng and shaping the others. This is because the "servant-leader" in fact draws its greatest strength from combining the characteristics in a dynamic blending together rather than from an applying them in isolated ways.

    Three key themes provide the foundation for the concept:

    [1] REFLECTION --- Self-reflection can rejuvenate the inner confidence of leaders to deal with both their staff and customers. By making the commitment to understand the characteristics of the Servant-Leader concept and to reflect on how it can influence their relationships to staff, customers, and the larger community, leaders can enhance their practice of the values of listening, empathy, healing, conceptualization and foresight.

    [2] INTEGRITY --- Leaders who act with integrity are perceived by their followers as being trustworthy and completely honest. By taking time to think about how their values are integrated with their organization's vision and how their own honesty is respected by their peers and their followers, leaders can be a healing force within their organizations.

    [3] PASSION --- When leaders demonstrate their unfailing dedication to an ideal, they are generating genuine passion for one of the core values of the concept of Servant-Leadership, which is to support the growth of the people within their communities, thereby building social capital.

    Summary --- The paradoxes of being a "Servant-Leader" (p26-28)

    By following through with the themes of reflection, integrity, and passion, leaders can weave together the characteristics of the Servant-Leader concept within their personal and professional lives. Through this comprehensive process, leaders can integrate the right blend of reflection (thinking), integrity (honesty) and passion (feeling) that can create effective compassion, which is a predictable result of applying the Servant-Leadership concept. This concept is a paradox because it requires a complex thinking process of balancing the ideas of a "servant" and a "leader" as a "both/and" instead of an "either/or" series of leadership decisions!

    Servant-Leadership is about creating the right organizational environment to get the best out of people. It is about organizational effectiveness to unleash the true potential of employees, which is especially needed at the middle-management level of organizations. Today's highly competitive global marketplace requires leaders to realign their organizational structures, systems, and management styles in order to empower their employees to survive and thrive in their changing organizations.

      The paradoxes of being a "Servant-Leader" poem (p29)

        Strong enough to be weak

        Successful enough to fail

        Busy enough to make time

        Wise enough to say "I don't know"

        Serious enough to laugh

        Rich enough to be poor

        Right enough to say "I'm wrong"

        Compassionate enough to discipline

        Mature enough to be childlike

        Important enough to be last

        Planned enough to be spontaneous

        Controlled enough to be flexible

        Free enough to endure captivity

        Knowledgeable enough to ask questions

        Loving enough to be angry

        Great enough to be anonymous

        Responsible enough to play

        Assured enough to be rejected

        Victdorious enough to lose

        Industrious enough to relax

        Leading enough to serve

        Poem by Brewer --- as cited by Hansel, in Holy Sweat, Dallas Texas, Word, 1987. (p29)


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