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  • Writer's pictureDr. Cristina DiPietropolo

Servant Leadership: Do you feel it's an honor and a privilege to serve your employees?

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

We often hear people refer to servant leadership, a term coined by Robert Greenleaf in 1970, but what does this leadership style resemble? Servant leadership is the understanding that as a leader, you must put your followers first. It is the viewpoint that it's an honor to serve those around you. So, the question I'd like to ask is simple - Do you feel it's an honor and a privilege to serve others? That includes your employees and, for some like me, the people in your sphere of influence!

As a professor focusing on organizational behavior and human resources, I have always felt it was an honor and a privilege to be my student's instructor. Why? Because I have a deep sense of purpose in the classroom and feel that God has entrusted me with these individuals. At the beginning of each semester, my goal is to directly impact these students' lives in a way that transcends beyond the classroom environment. While I want them to remember the fundamentals of the course objectives to apply in their future careers, I am more focused on significantly impacting their lives by cultivating strong character and instilling in them the importance of ethics and credibility. To accomplish this, I offer insight based on my personal experiences, including my failures, to help them grow and become greater than they think they can be! It's about putting my student's needs ahead of my own.

"Servant leadership is about helping people succeed both professionally and individually; it is serving those you are responsible for and those you are responsible to."[i]

There are ten characteristics that servant leaders possess: Listening, Empathy, Healing, Self-Awareness, Persuasion, Conceptualization, Foresight, Stewardship, Commitment to the growth of people, and Building community.[ii] It's much more than just serving followers; it is also the unique ability to grow as a leader by emulating these characteristics to pursue continuous growth.

In a previous post, we discussed the importance of self-awareness, a component of emotional intelligence. As a leader, you need to be self-aware and critically analyze your motives and behaviors, which requires both discipline and humility. Why is that important? It's simple… self-reflection is a crucial element to growing as a leader, and effective leadership is the continual growth by all individuals to affect positive change. As a servant leader, the more you know about yourself, your values, strengths, motivations, emotional triggers, the more you will be able to listen to your team members, demonstrate empathy and help them grow professionally and personally.

As a concluding thought, consider the following question. Why do you do what you do? Is it for your benefit or the benefit of others?

Dr. Cristina Rosario DiPietropolo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience across multiple industries and highly skilled in the areas of strategic planning, organizational behavior, human resource management, change management, and leadership. Over ten years of teaching experience as a university professor of management, with a special focus on leadership in entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, and international management.

_________________________________________________________________________ [i] McManus, E.R. (2012). Servant Leadership. [ii] Podsada, A. R. (2010). 10 Characteristics of a Servant Leader. Retrieved December 20, 2017, from

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