Demystifying True Servant Leadership

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

Written by: David Collins, Partner, SERVE2PERFORM

As someone who has been blessed by the opportunity to study the greatest Servant Leader ever - and to have been led by someone who consistently demonstrated authentic servant leadership, I offer these truths I have learned from them….

A common fallacy in the practice of servant leadership is that a leader who steps in and completes a job-related task for an individual on their team, has just demonstrated the traits of a good Servant Leader.  However, in the eyes and the mind of the individual, this act may not be a 'service’ to them or effective 'leadership' at all.  In fact, at times it can be demeaning and insulting. What the individual likely needs from the leader is not for them to complete the task for them, but be a leader who takes the time understand, identify and remove obstacles - or provide resources and development to help enable the team member’s ongoing success. 

Think of it this way....


Servant Leaders

seek to

Meet the Needs of Others


Identifying their True Needs


Building a Respectful Relationship

based on

Trust and Openness

By building a foundation of mutual trust and respect, a relationship will be fostered whereby individual team members will feel comfortable being open with you as a leader, to share what the real needs are.  Team members who have not experienced this investment in effort or time, will sometimes feel judged or too vulnerable to be truly open to share what they really need from you as a leader. Only after trust and respect are established will the professional relationship be established at a level where they will be open and honest with you about their needs. Once their true needs are identified, the leader must then work with the team member to discern the appropriate way to serve the individual and lead them to success. 

Remember…. when you Serve to Lead, you will model for others how to SERVE2PERFORM

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