What are the characteristics of a strong servant leader?
Strong servant leaders know that the greatest call placed upon them is to invest in other people. There is no company, no organization, and no project that is more important than those who are under our guidance. The soul of a strong leader and the mind of a healthy manager know this to be true.
Here are the 22 characteristics of a strong servant leader.
1. Vision Over Version
The “vision” of the leader should always be clear and easy to understand. “Vision” is being able to see something that does not exist in the minds of others. It is not a copy. “Vision” is about knowing where you can see your team or organization headed. It is not a duplicate of what someone else has invented. It is not another version of another person’s good idea. Vision is being able to see where you’re going! It produces the ability to see what’s up ahead. This vision must be done in both a literal and figurative sense.
2. People Over Programs
Too often groups, businesses, and churches allow their organizations to take on more life than the people that make up the group. The system means more than the individuals. This behavior will kill any team effort. Without the unique input of different people into an organization, it will have little creativity and lots of stagnation. Personalities must mean more than the program.
3. Strengths Over Weaknesses
One of the greatest first steps any organization can take is to discover the power of those who make up the group. This discovery will call for the team leaders to take their time in coming to know those who are part of the team. What is each person good at doing? What are the weaknesses of each member? This action will take time to learn, but it is well worth every minute invested. Many organizations have found that the frustration level of those in their group was caused by asking them to do something that they simply did not have the skills or desire to accomplish. This does not mean that they need to be fired or replaced. It just means that they will be much stronger in an area in which they are gifted.
4. Influence Over Authority
Many leaders often throw their weight around or flex their muscles to prove who is in charge. Influence has much more power than authority. However, it must be earned. True leadership cannot be forced upon anyone.
5. Example Over Policy
Real leaders teach by example, not by policy. Every organization needs some policy design but getting people to work together is never accomplished by a set of rules. Someone is going to have to lead the way and set an example. This action falls right in line behind “influence over authority” and “people over programs.”
6. Inspiration Over Instructions
A strong team leader understands the process to mentally stimulating others. The process of inspiring is not accomplished by lists of instructions. Inspiring others calls for a personal touch.
7. Empowerment Over Control
A good leader is comfortable in releasing control and allowing others to sense a level of trust in their abilities and skills.
8. Origination Over Duplication
The drive of strong leadership is to help hunt down original ideas. A healthy leader does not desire to copy or duplicating someone else. Another major goal of a strong leader is to inspire originality.
9. Release Over Control
A productive leader does not have to be in control. Control is a very unnatural behavior for a real leader. A true leader does care who gets the credit or who is in charge. The desire of this individual is to be sure the job gets completed.
10. Simplicity Over Complexity
For the leader, being simple is the goal. Their overall desire is to be understood.
11. Proactive Over Reactive
Proactive means creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it! Reactive means acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it!
Being proactive is about creating rather than responding. The hardy soul of a leader always desires creation over a response.
12. Experiments Over Stagnation
When I was in high school, I made the mistake of diving into some stagnant water after working on a friend’s farm for the day. It was a major mistake. I was sick for three days. Stagnation is not good for anyone. It is much better to try something different than to be unmoving and unchanging.
13. Rethinking Over Reorganizing
Many times a group will reorganize the structure of a team without any thought at all. Restructuring of any organization without knowing “why” is simply a bad idea. Think it through then reorganize. Don’t ever reorganize before you have asked the question, “Why are we doing this?”
14. Motives Over Methods
There are many great ideas out there that do not have a clear motive. Lot’s of things look good on paper. They may even look good to other people. But what is the motive? “Why?” That is a good three-letter question.
15. Equality Over Hierarchy
Is every member of our team worth something? Do you see the value of the quiet one in the crowd? Does the opinion of every person on the team have value? Many groups fail because they do not see the value of every individual on the team. This type of behavior is destructive. It is explosive!
16. Optimism Over Skepticism
The negative leader cannot expect positive results. A strong leader must consistently convey a positive spirit of optimism. Why would any of us want to follow someone who is negative?
17. Art Over Science
Art is all about creativity. Science is about “the facts.” If any organization does not allow the artistic people in the group to express himself or herself, chances are, some treasures will never be found.
18. Dreaming Over Doubting
Doubting does not seem to be hard to come by. In fact, doubting appears to come relatively easy for most people. Many organizations surpass the “dreamers” kind of like they discourage the “artistic” (look at number 18 again). Creative individuals and dreamers are incredibly powerful resources for any organization. Some people just don’t believe it!
19. Potential Over Performance
Potential is like a treasure lying beneath the ground. Sometimes you have to dig deep. When it is all said and done, potential is the fuel for any successful performance. If the potential is not sought out by a team, then it is like a musician that is entirely capable of hitting the right note (performance) but is incapable of causing all the notes to flow together for a pleasing sound (potential).
20. Satisfaction Over Compensation
There will be many people who live out their lives and make lots of money but will never come to the point of personal satisfaction. Payment for a job does not completely satisfy. A strong leader will encourage those he/she works with to discover that “thing” in life that brings them the most joy.
21. Long Term Goals Over Short Term Goals
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. The soul of a strong leader knows this! If these principles are to be accomplished, it will take time. They cannot be rushed.
22. Evolutionary Thinking Over An Unchanging Agenda
A strong leader is constantly thinking, dreaming and looking into the future. The strong leader is constantly looking for something that does not exist.
What kind of leader are you?
Do you have any of these 22 characteristics of a strong leader?
Never forget, “There is no company, no organization, and no project that is more important than those who have been placed under our leadership.”
Being a Strong Servant Leader The Right Way
I recently pulled a book out of my library entitled Leading Edge by Robert Dale. While scanning through the book I came across a section in chapter two entitled the “Seduction of Power.”
In this chapter, Dale points out the second temptation of Jesus. His temptation was to bow down to Satan and become ruler of all the kingdoms of the world.
Leaders are attempted to compromise to evil forces to reach their goals. Many times leaders come to the conclusion that for success to take place shortcuts must be made.
Immoral behavior can not accomplish moral goals. So, what exactly is real leadership? Robert Dale explains it this way,
“Robert Greenleaf’s classic book, Servant Leadership opens with a powerful story.
A group of persons are on a journey. Leo, a servant, accompanies the party and, while performing menial chores……keeps the group’s spirits up. The trip goes well until Leo disappears. Then, the group falls into disarray…….. The group simply cannot proceed without the servant Leo. One member of the group searches for years and at long last locates Leo. To his surprise, Leo, whom the searcher has only known as a servant, is actually the leader of the organization that sponsored the group’s journey in the first place. The leader is servant first—-that’s the moral of Greenleaf story ………”
What do you think about the idea of the leader of an organization being a servant?
Does the phrase servant-leadership make sense?