icon Servant Leadership Style Principles & Best Practices | HRDQ Skip to content
Servant Leadership Style Principles & Best Practices - HRDQ

Servant Leadership Style Principles & Best Practices

Servant leaders are unique individuals with an inspiring outlook on life. Having a deep understanding of the servant leadership style principles and best practices can help you improve your supervisory skills and better guide your team. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this style of management!

Take the What’s My Leadership Style? assessment from HRDQ to discover how you manage your team!

What is the Servant Leadership Style?

Servant leaders have an inherent desire to serve others. Rather than wanting to lead to increase their status and power, they use their position to help develop and grow those who depend on them. Unlike autocratic leaders who don’t often consider the opinions of others, servant leaders share their power to ensure each individual’s needs are met. In fact, meeting these needs is their highest priority. This helps others perform to the best of their ability.

Principles of the Servant Leadership Style

Here are some of the primary principles servant leaders abide by:

  • To ensure the people they serve grow as individuals
  • To inspire individuals to become servants themselves by setting a great example and providing them with the proper tools
  • To ensure those in the least powerful positions are better set up for success
  • To build a community that encourages people to lift each other up

Servant Leadership Style Best Practices

Those who successfully embody the servant leadership style abide by the following best practices:

  • Committing to continual development. Servant leaders are always seeking ways to develop their team to help them achieve their goals and become better individuals.
  • Self-reflection. A large part of being a servant leader is having full self-awareness. By understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, you can determine where you best fit within the team. This allows you to apply yourself in spaces that more significantly benefit other individuals and the company as a whole.
  • Attentive listening. People who have outstanding listening skills make people feel valued and instill trust. This is also an important method for determining the needs of your team members.
  • Having empathy. Empathy requires you to really get to know your team. You should be aware of what their day-to-day tasks are like, keep a pulse on items that might be causing uneasiness, and have open discussions with team members. This will help you put yourself in their shoes so you can fully understand and correct any problems they’re facing.
  • Using positive persuasion. Persuasion is a useful tool for servant leaders. It allows them to build consensus and encourage people to invest in the teamwork-oriented work environment. In doing so, individuals are more motivated to ensure the success of the team as a whole.
  • Leading by example. As the saying goes, “practice what you preach.” This is key for servant leaders because they want to instill their values in others. It’s important for them to show that people come before power, as this is what fosters an environment that truly thrives.

Struggles Servant Leaders Face

The reality is, servant leadership style isn’t fit for every individual and company. Because of this, servant leaders might expect to encounter the following difficulties:

  • Pressure from business owners. Most businesses exist to make revenue, and it can take time to develop your team to reach their greatest potential. Servant leaders may experience pressure from their superiors to speed the employee-development process along.
  • Unclear authority. Since servant leaders aim to be an integrated part of the team, it can diminish their authority. This is especially true when they’re required to take a firm stance on a particular matter.
  • Fatigue. Meeting the needs of others is exhausting, especially when a company requires a lot of help. It’s common to experience fatigue in certain work environments that expect you to resolve all of their existing problems. Simply keep in mind how much you can handle, even when it comes to serving others.

Learn to “Flex” Your Leadership Style

Since the servant leadership style doesn’t work for everyone, you need to learn how to “flex” your leadership style to accommodate all of your employees, not just the ones that prefer your managerial approach. “Flexing” refers to the ability to recognize the communication style a person best responds to, then adjusting your communication method to meet their needs.

For instance, some people prefer a direct, no-nonsense approach, which may not come naturally to servant leaders. Others may respond best to an analytic approach. Whatever the case may be, all great leaders must have the ability to “flex” their style. By learning to do so, you won’t have to give up your principles as a servant leader. Rather, you’ll learn how to make them applicable and digestible to more individuals within your company.

Get Started with HRDQ Today!

Implementing these servant leadership style principles and best practices can help you, your team, and your whole workplace succeed and thrive. But, in order to grow and improve as a superior, it’s important to thoroughly understand your leadership style and learn how to properly flex it to meet the needs of your employees.

To start leading your team better than ever before, explore HRDQ’s Style Suite for training materials that will assist you in developing your managerial skills. Soon, you and your team will be working together flawlessly to achieve your goals.

Explore the HRDQ Style Suite

Recommended Assessment
What's My Leadership Style
  • Identify personal leadership styles
  • Capitalize on style strengths
  • Minimize style trouble spots
Learn more
Previous article What Are The Most Common Frustrations at Work in 2023?

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields

About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.