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Did a training recently on servant leadership. I thought this could be used in our understanding of the qualities of some recent pontificates and other leaders in the Church, and maybe even our own leadership qualities. This is just a copy from Wikipedia. The original stuff is by Robert K. Greenleaf, which was in his first book The Servant As Leader in 1970, and then developed until his death in 1990. It's not new stuff, but the formulation may be of interest.



Servant Leadership in the context of leadership styles

The most common division of leadership styles is the distinction between autocratic, participative and laissez-faire leadership styles. The authoritarian style of leadership requires clearly defined tasks and monitoring their execution and results. The decision-making responsibility rests with the executive. In contrast to the autocratic, the practice of a participative leadership style involves employees in decision-making. More extensive tasks are delegated. The employees influence and responsibility increases. The laissez-faire style of leadership is negligible in practice.

Servant Leadership can be most likely associated with the participative leadership style. The authoritarian leadership style does not correspond to the guiding principle. The highest priority of a servant leader is to encourage, support and enable subordinates to unfold their full potential and abilities. This leads to an obligation to delegate responsibility and engage in participative decision-making. In the managerial grid model of Blake and Mouton, the participative style of leadership is presented as the approach with the greatest possible performance and employee satisfaction. However, there is the question whether a leadership style can be declared as universal and universally applicable. Situational contexts are not considered.

The servant leadership approach goes beyond employee-related behavior and calls for a rethinking of the hierarchical relationship between leader and subordinates. This does not mean that the ideal of a participative style in any situation is to be enforced, but that the focus of leadership responsibilities is the promotion of performance and satisfaction of employees.


Characteristics of being a servant leader

Scholars generally agree that these characteristics are central to the development of a servant-leader:

Listening: Traditionally, and also in servant leadership, managers are required to have communication skills as well as the competence to make decisions. A servant leader has the motivation to listen actively to subordinates and support them in decision identification. The servant leader particularly needs to pay attention to what remains unspoken in the management setting. This means relying on his inner voice in order to find out what the body, mind and spirit are communicating.

Empathy: A servant leader attempts to understand and empathize with others. Workers may be considered not only as employees, but also as people who need respect and appreciation for their personal development. As a result, leadership is seen as a special type of human work, which ultimately generates a competitive advantage.

Healing: A great strength of a Servant Leader is the ability for healing one’s self and others. A servant leader tries to help people solve their problems and conflicts in relationships, because he wants to encourage and support the personal development of each individual. This leads to the formation of a business culture, in which the working environment is dynamic, fun and free of the fear of failure.

Awareness: A servant leader needs to gain general awareness and especially self-awareness. He has the ability to view situations from a more integrated, holistic position. As a result, he gets a better understanding about ethics and values.

Persuasion: A Servant Leader does not take advantage of their power and status by coercing compliance; they rather try to convince those they manage. This element distinguishes servant leadership most clearly from traditional, authoritarian models and can be traced back to the religious views of Robert Greenleaf.

Conceptualization: A servant leader thinks beyond day-to-day realities. That means he has the ability to see beyond the limits of the operating business and also focuses on long term operating goals. A Leader constructs a personal vision that only he/she can develop by reflecting on the meaning of life. As a result, he/she derives specific goals and implementation strategies.

Foresight: Foresight is the ability to foresee the likely outcome of a situation. It enables the servant leader to learn about the past and to achieve a better understanding about the current reality. It also enables the servant leader to identify consequences about the future. This characteristic is closely related to conceptualization.

Stewardship: CEOs, staffs and trustees have the task to hold their institution in trust for the greater good of society. Servant leadership is seen as an obligation to help and serve others. Openness and persuasion are more important than control.

Commitment to the growth of people: A servant leader is convinced that people have an intrinsic value beyond their contributions as workers. Therefore, they should nurture the personal, professional and spiritual growth of employees. For example, they spend money for the personal and professional development of the people who make up their organization. The servant leader will also encourage the ideas of everyone and involve workers in decision making.

Building community: A servant leader identifies means to build a strong community within his organization and wants to develop a true community among businesses and institutions.

As a result it has to be emphasized that these 10 characteristics are by no means exhaustive. They should not be interpreted as a certain manner to behave and they do not represent the best method to gain aims. Rather every person shall reflect, if these characteristics can be useful for his personal development.
So, an abbott in the line of St. Benedict would be what?
Certainly in the same spirit. If everyone followed the rule of Benedict, we'd have great leaders in spades.