Leadership never results from obligatory subservience, but rather from a fostering of trust. One of the greatest litmus tests of authentic leadership is the degree to which those being led possess a confidence in who they are following. This trust is not an outcome of manipulation or coercion, but rather of exemplified authenticity. This quality is cultivated only in a servant leadership paradigm.
A servant leader is the only true leader. Anyone who attempts to lead outside of a servant leadership paradigm fosters distrust and therefore will be known as a fraud or at worst the anti-leader.
There are three initial traits to the servant leader that stand out as distinct attributes. I’d love for you to comment on this blog and add any additional attributes that stand out to you.
Servant leaders are dependable
You can count on a leader to be a person of consistency. There’s a level of reliability that confirms a steadfastness and trustworthiness from a real leader. Example: If those being led are unsure who their “leader” will be emotionally on any given day it will cause a fault line of instability that ends in skepticism and distrust. Being dependable provides security and in turn allows for those you lead to take greater risks and achieve more challenging endeavors.
QUESTION 1: Do those I lead have to guess how I will show up emotionally on any given day?
Servant leaders are authentic
You can count on a leader to be a person of their word. A true leader’s sincerity is their credibility. This is a matter of integrity for the leader than merely a matter of reputation. Who you say you are and what you say you will do erects the framework by which your character is upheld. A servant leader cares less for the status of trustworthiness than the responsibility they feel that trust invokes. A leader carries trust like a badge of honor that dictates how they conduct their private and public life. Being authentic cultivates a culture of vulnerability and gives permission for those you lead to embrace honesty as the best policy.
QUESTION 2: Do I care more about my reputation of trust or my trustworthy character?
Servant leaders care deeply about others
You can count on a leader to feel a deep personal obligation for the betterment of those they lead. For a servant leader, it’s not about how others can serve their interests, but how the leader can serve those they lead. Obviously, a leader can’t continue to run themselves into the ground in an unhealthy selflessness. Contributing to the good of those they lead however, is a flood of goodness that fills their own soul. Caring deeply about others offers healing and wholeness to those you lead in a way that enriches their lives by gifting them with a sense of meaning and fullness.
QUESTION 3: Do I see those I lead as servants to my interests or do I see myself as a servant to theirs?
It’s easy to mistake having power over people with being a leader. I’m confident that many of the authority figures I’ve met who have power, believe because of that power that they are naturally leaders. I’m also confident that it’s not what we think about ourselves that endorses our leadership, but rather what kind of people those we lead know us to be. Are we dependable, authentic, and do we care deeply about others? If so, being a servant leader is something we should all feel proud of.