Ten Characteristics of a Servant-Leader
To further define Greenleaf's paradigm shift, Larry C. Spears
identified ten characteristics of a servant-leader in his paper titled
"On Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective,
Listening: Servant leader must listen to verbal and non-verbal
signals and interpret what the others are saying. In addition, the
servant leader must listen to their inner thoughts and feelings and
interpret them (Spears, p.2).
Empathy: "The most successful servant-leaders are those who
have become skilled empathetic listeners." "One assumes the good
intentions of co-workers and colleagues and does not reject them as
people, even when one may be forced to refuse to accept certain behaviors
or performance (Spears, p.3).
Healing: "servant-leaders recognize that they have an
opportunity to help make whole those with whom they come in contact"
Awareness: Servant leaders should "view most situations from a
more integrated, holistic position." Robert Greenleaf said awareness "is
a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and
reasonably disturbed" (Spears, p.3).
Persuasion: The servant leader should rely "on persuasion,
rather than on one's positional authority, in making decisions within an
organization." The technique of convincing rather than coercion should be
used. This is in contrast to the "authoritarian model " of leadership.
"The servant-leader is effective at building consensus within groups"
Conceptualization: "The ability to look at a problem or an
organization from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must think
beyond day-to-day realities" (Spears, p.3).
Foresight: "a characteristic that enables the servant-leader to
understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and
the likely consequence of a decision for the future" (Spears, p.3).
Stewardship: "a commitment to serving the needs of others. It
also emphasizes the use of openness and persuasion, rather than control"
Commitment to the growth of people: "deeply committed to the
growth of each and every individual within his or her organization." An
example is "taking personal interest in the ideas and suggestions from
everyone, encouraging worker involvement in decision making" (Spears,
Building community: A servant-leader should "seek to identify
some means for building community among those who work within a given
institution" (Spears, p.4).