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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vera Alves

Servant Leadership: Developing the building blocks for success - Part 1

Servant leadership is a leadership approach that employs a deep sense of empathy and awareness to bring out the best in those around you. Robert K. Greenleaf proposed the concept of Servant Leadership in 1970.[i] According to Greenleaf [ii], "the servant-leader is servant first." Leadership is not their primary goal, as the fundamental motivation is to ensure people's needs are met. Servant leadership, which is favored by many prominent names in different industries around the globe, is effective because it provides an exceptional level of support that empowers team members to do better and find their inner strengths. In part one of this two-part series, we will highlight two leadership skills that can have an immediate impact on your life as a servant leader.


Servant leaders respond to problems by listening first.[iii] Listening enables them to focus on paying attention to the needs and suggestions of those around them, which allows them to make better decisions and meet needs more effectively.

Tips for Listening:

  • Pay more attention to the actions of those around you.

  • Make it easy for people to come to you with feedback or concerns.

  • Ask people for their opinions and experiences.

  • Conduct both formal and informal interviews.

  • Lead discussion groups to gain insight and make use of surveys as well.

  • Open suggestion "boxes" utilizing both physical or online tools.

Commitment to Growth

An effective servant leader understands each of their employee's and colleague's power and takes responsibility for their personal and professional development. Rather than seeing people for who they are, servant leaders believe in what they can achieve with proper support and encouragement. To be successful in this area, a leader must always strive to better those around them, guiding them towards their own greatest strengths for the best outcomes.

Tips for Commitment to Growth:

  • Recognize the individual strengths that those around you possess.

  • Make funds available for their development.

  • Value their ideas, needs, suggestions, and support their endeavors.

  • Empower your employees.

  • Choose to seek out opportunities to help those around you to grow.

  • Find the individual value that everyone around you can bring to the workplace.

As a servant leader, you need to turn the traditional power leadership model upside down. By carefully listening and displaying a commitment to the people around you, you will be a real example of what is expected from every employee in the organization. It all begins with you!

How important do you think the ability to listen is to successful leadership? Have you been committed to your followers' growth? What would you add to these two very relevant aspects of Servant Leadership?

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Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. She possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a strong and charismatic leadership style.

_________________________________________________________________________ [i]Greenleaf, R. K. (1970). The servant as leader. Indianapolis: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center. [ii]Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant Leadership. Available from,%20Servant%20Leadership.pdf. [iii] Keith, K. M. (2008) The Key Practices of Servant-Leaders. Available from

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