Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership is a values and relational-based approach to leadership. It involves identifying and meeting the legitimate needs (as opposed to wants) of those entrusted to the care of the leader. This means getting people involved from the “neck up” – not merely contributing their “hand and backs’ but also volunteering their “hearts and minds.” It is a model of developing leaders of character who lead with authority (influence) rather than simply relying upon power (coercion).

Servant Leadership is the skill(s) of influencing people to enthusiastically work towards goals identified as being for the common good, with character that inspires confidence.  It’s not about getting results through power which is the ability to force or coerce others to do your will, even if they choose not to, because of your position or your might. It’s about getting results through being a trusted authority which is the ability of getting people willingly to do your will because of personal influence. Power can be bought and sold or given and taken away, not so with Authority.

Every follower has three important questions about their leaders.  They want to know:

1. Can I trust you?
2. Are you committed?
3. Do you care about me?

Here’s the real test of a leader. Are your people better now than when they arrived? Are you a better leader than you were a year ago? Anyone who wishes to be a leader, must first be the servant. If you choose to lead, you must serve!

Collins, in his book Good to Great described servant leaders as Level 5 Leadership. “The good to great leaders seem to have come from Mars. Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy – these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates, than Patton or Caesar.”

The wisdom in this blog entry comes entirely from a seminar I attended on May 3rd. The Academy for Leadership Excellence brought in James Hunter to present; Living as a Servant Leader: The True Essence of Leadership. You can learn more about James Hunter and Servant Leadership by visiting I encourage you to do so.

Gary Tomlinson
(919) 847-6235

About Gary Tomlinson

Gary Tomlinson has been an entrepreneur and business owner for over 40 years. Today he is a leadership consultant and executive coach specializing in executive team alignment and organizational execution.
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