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What is Servant Leadership and Why Does It Matter?

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

Servant leadership is the concept of leading by serving others. The idea is that the leader's primary purpose is to serve the needs of their followers, rather than themselves.

This style of leadership has been favoured by several notable figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, Ken Blanchard, and Margaret Wheatley. The theory behind servant leadership is that by focusing on the needs of others, the leader will be able to better motivate and inspire them. This in turn can lead to improved performance and results.

The History of Servant Leadership

This style of leadership is nothing new, but the term "servant leadership" was first officially coined in an essay by Robert K. Greenleaf in the 1970s. CEOs are often drawn to this style of leadership because it enables them to build a thriving community around their brand and business.

The Benefits of Servant Leadership

Employee Satisfaction

Servant leadership makes employees feel valued, which in turn leads to increased job satisfaction. A happy employee is a productive and loyal employee, so it's in the best interests of the company to create a servant leadership culture.

Stronger Teams

When employees feel supported by their leaders, they are more likely to work together cohesively as a team. This leads to improved communication and collaboration, which can only be beneficial for the company. It can also help lower the turnover rate, which is a big problem facing many businesses in the wake of covid-19 and the Great Resignation.

Increased Productivity

Because servant leaders focus on the needs of their employees, they are more likely to be motivated and inspired to do their best work. This leads to increased productivity, which is always good for business.

Improved Customer Service

Servant leadership isn't just about employees. It's also about customers. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to provide excellent customer service. This is because they feel like they are part of the family.

Customer-centric brands like Amazon and Starbucks have built their businesses on the foundation of servant leadership. This customer-centric approach has led to increased brand loyalty and repeat business.

Putting Servant Leadership into Action

The concept of servant leadership is underpinned by a few key principles, which are outlined below.


Empathy is at the heart of servant leadership. Leaders need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of their employees and understand their needs. Only then can they truly serve them.


Communication is key in any leader-follower relationship, but it's especially important for servant leaders. Leaders need to be able to communicate their vision and inspire their employees to buy into it.


Respect is a two-way street. Servant leaders need to respect their employees, and in turn, their employees will respect them. This mutual respect is essential for building trust and creating a positive working relationship.


Servant leaders need to be able to work collaboratively with their employees. This means being open to input and feedback, and working together to find solutions.


Servant leaders need to be able to delegate tasks effectively and efficiently. This helps to ensure that employees feel trusted and empowered to do their best work. A micromanager who struggles to delegate will quickly find themselves overwhelmed, with a team who resents rather than respects them.


Servant leaders need to know what their weaknesses and strengths are. This self-awareness enables them to focus on their strengths and delegate their weaknesses. It also allows them to be open and honest with their employees, which builds trust.

Final Thoughts

Servant leadership is a style of leadership that is focused on the needs of the employees. This customer-centric approach leads to increased employee satisfaction, stronger teams, and increased productivity.

Those interested in learning more about this style of leadership should read Robert K. Greenleaf's book, 'Servant Leadership' or 'Leaders Eat Last' by Simon Sinek.

We hope you enjoy reading this article, if you want to get in touch with us, please email us at or call us at (08)6383 7938.



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