10 Core Competencies of Servant Leadership

“The role of a servant leader is to stimulate what is already within the person.”

~Dr. Tony Baron, The Art of Servant Leadership

Servant-Leaders strive to become the best leaders possible each and every day. To do so means that they follow and are empowered by key characteristics that build a service-oriented consciousness (mind-set).

Much of the research on Servant Leadership discuss the characteristics of a servant leader. Some researchers say servant leadership is seen as vision, influence, credibility, and trust.

Others include emotional healing, creating value for the community, conceptual skills, empowering, helping subordinates grow and succeed, putting subordinates first, behaving ethically, relationships, and servant hood as key characteristics.

One of my favorite researchers, K. Patterson, added another characteristic; Agapao love. She defined it as to do goodwill for another.

As we know, Robert Greenleaf, the “father” of the Servant Leadership model, defined ten core competencies for Servant-Leaders. These 10 are the basis from which all other research, writings, and books on Servant leadership are founded.

  1. Authentic Listening – The servant leader understands the will of a team and clarifies that will. The Servant-Leader is always listening with an open heart to what is being said and not said. The Servant-Leaders hears one’s own inner voice with reflection and contemplation. This is critical to an emerging Servant-Leader.
  1. Empathy – The servant leader shows empathy and understanding with others. Individuals are accepted and recognized for their unique energy. The Servant-Leader sees the good intentions of people and does not reject them as people, even when certain behaviors or performance are deemed inappropriate. Servant-Leaders are skilled empathetic listeners.
  1. Healing – Servant-Leaders seek wholeness in themselves and others.
  1. Self-Awareness – Servant-Leaders seek awareness at all levels and particularly in issues involving ethics, power, and values. Their view is integrative and holistic.
  1. Persuasion – Persuasion is seen as a way to convince others, not through positional authority or compliance through coercive tactics. Persuasion in this manner distinguishes the leadership between the authoritarian model and the servant leadership model. Servant-Leaders are effective at building group consensus.
  1. Conceptualization -Servant Leaders seek to conceptualize challenges, thinking from a holistic and broad perspective. They dream big and use systemic thinking to approach day-to-day operations. Servant-Leaders are forward thinkers, seeking balance in the dream and daily life.
  1. Foresight – Servant-Leaders use strategic intuition in thinking and behaviors. Foresight is intuition based in the past, the present, and the future decision-making process. Foresight is known within the intuitive mind.
  1. Stewardship – Servant-Leaders are good stewards and are concerned for individuals, organizations, and the world at large. Servant-Leaders make good use of all that is given to them and understand stewardship from a global perspective.
  1. Commitment to the Growth of the People – Servant Leaders are concerned about the growth of the people and as such, encourages and empowers personal and professional growth of individuals and teams.
  1. Building Community – Servant-Leaders enjoy building community among people and teams. In organizations, building community means bringing people together around a cause (whatever that cause may be) and developing that community with other organizations and institutions.

Indeed, developing and perfecting these competencies does not happen overnight. But, an emerging Servant-Leader understands and behaves in a manner consistent with getting better and better with each leadership opportunity.

Food For Thought; Gabrieal Cousen, the author of Conscious Eating, said, “Joy is the key to everything.” He said that we must live in a way that remembers that truth, including creating a joyful work situation. Isn’t that in perfect alignment with Servant Leadership? This week, contemplate on what brings you joy…and BE that!

To Core Competencies,

Dr. Crystal

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