Servant leadership is a behavioral leadership philosophy where the primary objective of the leader is to effectively serve the group that he or she leads. In contrast to traditional leadership, in which the sole focus of the leader is the flourishing of the organization or company, this is a concept that emphasizes the development of the person who leads. This concept is often used in volunteer leadership and is also used in some work places such as at the United Nations. Many people have argued that traditional leadership does not provide individuals with the kind of personal development necessary to lead and be effective in their position.
There are many examples of servant leadership in action today. A good example is the work of Marcial Atkins, an African American community organizer who has been working on housing and economic issues for the last thirty years. He has developed a number of important concepts that pertain to developing leaders and good members of a team. Atkins recommends a process of careful listening, building community, providing direction, and maintaining a high degree of deference to leaders.
One of Atkins’ key concepts is that leaders need to adjust their plans and strategies to meet the needs of those they are leading. For example, if you’re leading a group of people that are trying to build a community remember to add to your plan a plan for when you will make a personal appearance to visit the group. People want to know that you are listening to their concerns and that you are addressing their issues. When it comes to the issue of building community remember that the key to being a successful servant leader is in listening to the desires of the people you are leading. The people you are leading need to hear what you have to say and then be able to act on it.