Great leaders are key to the development of better employees and organizations by driving them towards the accomplishment of the set organizational goals that give them an edge over their competition. While there are different types of leaders that have been noted to be highly impactful in an organization such as visionary leaders, adaptive leaders and authentic leaders, the most effective leaders are the servant leaders. Servant leaders lead the people by serving them and working as servants of the people instead of perceiving their followers as subordinates (Northouse, 2016).
There are some behaviors expected of a Christian servant leader that may differ from someone who is not a servant leader. These behaviors include focusing on enthuse, empathy, trust and collaboration among the followers with a purpose of promoting communication and a shared vision. Unlike other types of leaders, servant leaders primarily focus on their followers and strive to understand them so as to serve them better. Moreover, it is expected that servant leaders will derive reciprocation of their actions through deeper engagement, better performance, and increased team work among the followers.
It is also assumed that Christian servant leader possesses distinguishing traits of valuing and listening to the contribution of others. They are interested and appreciate what others do and say and how that impacts their lives. They pay attention to both things that are said and those that are left unsaid since they have a genuine concern to understand their followers. While they rely on the contribution of their followers to make their decisions, they also exercise empathy to help them understand and recognize when their followers are not able to express themselves better. These traits are different for leaders who are not Christian servant leaders as they do not pay close attention to understand the compatibility of what followers say and their feelings. This is mainly so in cases where some individuals are unable to express themselves well due to fear or other challenges. As such, leading by serving allows leaders to connect with their followers at a much deeper level.
Despite the fact that servant leadership is often associated with the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ, this form of leadership is compatible with other religions or worldviews. Christians cite Jesus as the ultimate servant leader who was an example of his followers on how to do good, engage and empower others. The main act is demonstrated on the last supper when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. These acts of servant leadership are commonly shared by the religious worldviews such as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism (Kriger & Seng, 2005). All these religious worldviews recognize servant leadership as a form of leadership that epitomizes wisdom, morality, core vision, the role of community and importance of being. According to Kriger and Seng’s (2005) study, there are leadership traits that are associated with spirituality, including loving, kindness, empathy, honesty, peacefulness, joy, thankfulness and inner peace among others. These leadership values are shared by the five religions and influence how the leaders interact with their followers for purposes of ensuring that the followers derive the greatest value from the leadership.
- Kriger, M., & Seng, Y. (2005). Leadership with inner meaning: A contingency theory of leadership based on the worldview of five religions. Leadership Quarterly, 16, 771-806.
- Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc.