Servant Leadership Style and Its Effectiveness

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The concept of leadership has evolved unlike a few decades ago where being a boss automatically made one a leader in the eyes of employees or team members. Nowadays, being a boss does not automatically make one a leader, as leadership has trickled down the organizational chart. When it comes to workplace management, there are several styles of leadership a leader can use in the job environment, with each leadership style having its place in a leader’s toolkit. Servant leadership has gained popularity, with several leaders applying it to achieve success in their tenure as leaders.

Definition of Servant Leadership Style

Servant leadership is a style that allows the leader to build strong teams producing members who are committed both professionally and individually. The most significant concepts of the management style are employee collaboration and satisfaction. This kind of leadership seeks to involve team players in decision-making by inviting their opinions and views. The main tenant of the leadership style is that when team members feel fulfilled individually, they are better positioned to work.

Servant leadership is based on ethical behavior and emphasizes caring for each other. These elements separate the style from other conventional models of leadership. A servant leader leads their team members with a moral compass which influences their behavior and those of their followers. It assumes that when leaders focus on the needs of the team players, they will reciprocate and increase teamwork, performance, and engagement.

It can also be defined as a philosophy that enriches the lives of team players, thus building the organization (Gandolfi & Stone, 2018). This kind of leadership style ensures high-quality work at the workplace, enabling the firm to succeed. Servant leadership values their team members’ views and encourages them to contribute to the team regularly actively. This is a management style that necessitates the leader to prioritize the needs of the team members.

The leadership style continues to grow as many companies have begun integrating it into their organizational cultures. Although servant leadership occurs naturally to many individuals, it can be enhanced through learning and practicing. Many business organizations are shifting rapidly from traditional autocratic leadership models towards servant leadership styles (Northouse, 2021). Although this kind of leadership style can be used in any business, it is most popular within nonprofit-making companies.

Characteristics of servant leadership

A servant leader possesses traits such as empathy, persuasion, awareness, commitment to growth, and listening. These traits help them understand the opinions and feedback of the teams. These leaders are commonly perceived as the ones who put the interests and needs of others before theirs. Servant leaders motivate their teams by creating a work environment where employees feel empowered (Gandolfi & Stone, 2018). The leaders also portray excellent communication traits that enable them to share information with the team members. They have the ability to empathize with the employees and see them as more than workers. This makes the team feel that the leaders care about them personally.

Example of A Situation in Which Servant Leadership Would Be Particularly Effective and Why It Would Be Effective

An example is the case of a healthcare setting whereby the organization’s management can show that they care about their clients (patients) and care about the well-being of their employees. The healthcare organization can implement employee wellness programs that will motivate them to embrace healthy eating habits. It can also reimburse gym memberships to their employee to allow their employees to maintain healthy lives. Through this, the hospital leaders will drive change and will enable the organization to scale to graters heights and a good brand reputation.

Why servant leadership is effective

Servant leadership is considered effective in this case since it creates a friendly environment for employees. In these environments, employees will feel respected, appreciated, and valued (Northouse, 2021). The outcomes of the leadership style are from wholeheartedly paying attention to the needs of the employees. The approach engages its employees and team members in various dimensions, including emotional, ethical, and spiritual, and thus they are empowering to grow. It is notable to see organizations that have implemented servant leadership styles have achieved stronger work cultures with high employee involvement and morale.

Servant leadership grooms them for leadership roles since it celebrates individuality, selflessness, builds trust between employees and employers. It encourages diversity and thinking differently. This will foster friendly work environments and thus a collective exchange of ideas (Brohi et al., 2018). The leadership style is effective since it encourages employees to thinks for themselves and experiment with their ideas. This enables employees to try innovative ideas and improve the workplace (Gandolfi & Stone, 2018). Trust is a vital aspect in building long-lasting relationships. When the employees know that their interests are cared for, they will fully trust their leader. The style also supports clear communication of the mission and values of the company. By doing so, team members will corporate and work together to increase their work performance.

Servant leaders: Mother Theresa of Calcutta & Abraham Lincoln

For any servant leader, leadership is not about power or the position they hold but instead the desire they have to help others. Mother Theresa and Abraham Lincoln had the urge to show the way to their followers. Servant leaders can distinguish themselves from other leaders by leading transformational change and empowering their followers. Mother Theresa and Abraham Lincoln were provided with platforms to demonstrate their servant leadership and serve the people in their communities, as discussed below.

Mother Theresa, a catholic nun, is often described as a perfect description of servant leader. The nun was a charity worker in India and looked after the orphaned, sick, and disabled. Mother Theresa was a selfless leader who dedicated her life to serving and making the lives of others better. She left her worldly possession at the age of eighteen to live among India’s poorest population. Around the world, Mother Theresa felt empathetic towards the poor in India and decided to open a charity mission in Calcutta. As described by Green leaf, a leader enriches other people’s lives, thus creating a just and caring world (Brohi et al., 2018). Mother Theresa was able to devote her life purpose to serving the poorest and grow the community. When she was awarded a Nobel prize, Mother Theresa shows servant leadership traits but rejecting the prize. Instead of accepting the credit for her accomplishments, she rejected it. She lived a life with a determined heart to help the poor.

Mother Theresa prioritized listening to her followers in order to develop a long-lasting relationship with them. This hugely allowed her to understand the needs of her followers. She succeeded in inspiring her followers to lead servant leadership and contribute to charity. To achieve success, she founded missionaries of charities that serve people with leprosy and HIV (Brohi et al., 2018). Her followers contribute to establishing several missionaries in Calcutta because of the trust she earned from them.

Another great example of a servant leader is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States of America. His ultimate goal was to empower people and give them what they needed. This leader demonstrated his leadership traits when he freed slaves, giving them the opportunity to be liberated Americans. During the Civil War, the president made radical changes in America, thus positioning America as a democratic government. It is said that Abraham Lincoln vied for the presidency because it was the only way he could serve Americans. It also allowed Lincoln to show empathy to North and South America through his inaugural address and speeches.


In conclusion, servant leadership is one of the styles that has been practiced in various fields and several companies. Servant leadership focuses on the leader’s ability to empathize with the concerns of their followers. The primary concept of leadership is that it shifts focus to where the leader serves the employees, unlike traditional leadership models. The models put the conventional leadership style at the very bottom, where employees are at the top while the leader is charged with serving them.

Leaders who use the approach place the needs of their followers first before themselves. The central tenant of the leadership style is to nurture employee growth first in order to achieve performance in the long run. Although the leadership style has the opportunity of creating a successful outcome, it could lead to disaster in the absence of moral standards because of its over-emphasis on the servants. The often-cited servant leaders who used the leadership style include Abraham Lincoln and Mother Theresa.


Brohi, N. A., Jantan, A. H., Sobia, A. M. S., & Pathan, T. G. (2018). Does servant leadership style induce positive organizational behaviors? A conceptual study of servant leadership, psychological capital, and intention to quit the relationship. Journal of International Business and Management, 1(1), 1-11.

Gandolfi, F., & Stone, S. (2018). Leadership, leadership styles, and servant leadership. Journal of Management Research, 18(4), 261-269.

Northouse, P. G. (2021). Leadership: Theory and practice. SAGE Publications, Incorporated.

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